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ICQ is a popular instant messaging service created by Mirabilis[?] in the late 1990s.

AOL acquired Mirabilis and ICQ in 1998. A press release (http://www.icq.com/press/press_release26) announced the acquisition.

ICQ users are identified by numbers called UIN, distributed in sequential order (though there are rumored to be gaps in the sequence). New users today will be given a UIN of well over 100,000,000. Low numbers (six digits or less) have been auctioned on eBay by users who signed up in ICQ's early days.

AOL's OSCAR network protocol used by ICQ is proprietary, but a number of people have created more or less compatible third-party clients, including:

  • GtkICQ[?]
  • Licq
  • mICQ
  • centericq[?] - supports ICQ2000, Yahoo!, AIM, MSN and IRC
  • Trillian - supports ICQ, Yahoo!, AIM, MSN and IRC
  • Gaim - supports ICQ, Yahoo!, AIM, MSN, IRC, Jabber and Gadu-Gadu
  • Miranda - plugin based System, supports ICQ, Yahoo!, AIM, MSN, IRC, Jabber, Gadu-Gadu, BNet

A rather complete list of ICQ clones is listed at the ICQ protocol page listed below.

The name ICQ is a play on the phrase "I seek you".

ICQ allows the sending of text messages, URLs, multi-user chats, file transfers, greeting cards and more.

The Instant Messaging[?] community wishes to remove the proprietary protocol of IMs like ICQ and create a single instant messaging format, called Unified Instant Messaging[?] under the IPv6 Protocol, involving AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo!.

AOL has recently begun making its ICQ software more AIM-like by adding those disturbingly cute AIM Smilies.

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