The once popular ICQ messenger is closing after 28 years of operation. It was created in 1996 by the Israeli company Mirabilis, which was acquired by the American provider AOL in 1998 for $287 million. It was the early 2000s when ICQ flourished, when the number of its users reached 100 million. However, this did not help the messenger become profitable, so in 2010 AOL decided to sell ICQ to the Russian fund Digital Sky Technologies (DST, later renamed Group and then VK), which paid $187.5 million for the service.

The purchase of ICQ by the Russians did not give the messenger an additional impetus for development; it became part of’s services, which were transferred to another Russian Internet company, VK (formerly called Vkontakte). In this way, the Russian government consolidated the main Internet services and transferred them to people close to the Russian ruler.

The interface of the ICQ program

Until 2010, ICQ remained very popular in Ukraine, but frequent crashes, slow development, and lack of call support forced users to look for alternatives, one of which was Skype. ICQ’s decline in popularity was also caused by the beginning of the fight against third-party clients, which were often more convenient and allowed users to use the service without viewing ads. The rules introduced in 2009 allowed only “certified” programs to use the ICQ protocol.

It’s worth mentioning that unlike modern messengers, ICQ was not tied to a phone number; instead, after registration, the service issued a unique user number that had to be used as a login.

Unique number for ICQ login

In the beginning, this number consisted of 5 digits, but over time it became longer. Users were even willing to pay for a short number, and this created a whole black market for selling short ICQ numbers. And attackers were hunting for them to steal them.

According to Engadget, ICQ will finally stop working on June 26, and its users are planned to be transferred to VK Messenger and VK WorkSpace.

Do you still remember your ICQ number?