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Here's a look at the important advances of instant messaging made over the past 50 years.

The phrase "instant messaging" entered common usage in the early 1990s, but the concept actually dates back to the mid-1960s.

When we think about the spectacular collapses of once untouchable Internet properties, companies like My Space and come to mind.

The rise and fall of AOL Instant Messenger rivals them all.

In the 1970s, programmers worked on peer-to-peer protocol, allowing universities and research labs to establish simple communication between users of the same computer.

The Zephyr Notification Service, also created at MIT through Project Athena in the 1980s, used Unix to locate and send messages to users.

Harris had been a programmer at a small web browser company purchased by AOL.