Started May 20th 1997 AOL shut it down on December 15th 2017. The yellow running man had 20 years on the clock.
It was one of the first chat messenger drawing the masses due to that all AOL customers got it, wanted or not. Little later the "chat war" started with Microsoft's MSN. Around 2011 AIM rapidly started to lose popularity in part due to the rise of Google with its Gmail and built in chat (now (2017) converted into "Hangouts" I believe). Losing the sinking ship AOL announced in October 2017 to retire the chat client.
AOL seems to have no interest in chat anymore, stating on their web page something like there is not currently a replacement product available. And some annoying empty marketing phrase
We’re more excited than ever to focus on building the next generation of iconic brands and life-changing products.
without saying what.
Although I haven't used AIM for years (I might have had one chat in the past 10 years, so technically "a decade" would be wrong ;-) another internet era ends. While AOL wasn't the first to shut down their messenger, and won't be the last, it's kind of sad to see this go.