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Online chat

Online chat is a generic term for what are now mostly known as instant messaging applications - computer programs that enable two-way typing to connect users to each other.

However, there are net dating systems[?] and other online services[?] that do not use these applications to provide chat facilities, e.g. Delphi, often relying on HTTP-based protocols instead. Sometimes these are called a chat room or chat page extending the physical metaphors of 'sites' and 'magazines' which many web services exploit.

Some of these systems also provide telephone voice mail[?] access. These are usually known generically as just chat systems.

The earliest online chat system widely used was probably the Unix talk[?] facility. The earliest one in general use was likely the French Minitel[?]. The concept took off with the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) protocol, which is considered an instant messaging tool.

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