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In 2000, an open-source application and open standards-based protocol called Jabber was launched.The protocol was standardized under the name Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP).As such, it could be considered a type of graphical user interface (GUI), albeit much more primitive than the later Unix, Windows and Macintosh based GUI IM software.OLMs were what Q-Link called "Plus Services" meaning they charged an extra per-minute fee on top of the monthly Q-Link access costs.Modern, Internet-wide, GUI-based messaging clients as they are known today, began to take off in the mid-1990s with Pow Wow, ICQ, and AOL Instant Messenger.Similar functionality was offered by CU-See Me in 1992; though primarily an audio/video chat link, users could also send textual messages to each other. Meanwhile, other companies developed their own software; (Excite, MSN, Ubique, and Yahoo!Early instant messaging programs were primarily real-time text, where characters appeared as they were typed. Modern implementations of real-time text also exist in instant messengers, such as AOL's Real-Time IM In the latter half of the 1980s and into the early 1990s, the Quantum Link online service for Commodore 64 computers offered user-to-user messages between concurrently connected customers, which they called "On-Line Messages" (or OLM for short), and later "Flash Mail." (Quantum Link later became America Online and made AOL Instant Messenger (AIM, discussed later).

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Some systems permit messages to be sent to users not then 'logged on' (offline messages), thus removing some differences between IM and email (often done by sending the message to the associated email account).The Zephyr Notification Service (still in use at some institutions) was invented at MIT's Project Athena in the 1980s to allow service providers to locate and send messages to users.Parallel to instant messaging were early online chat facilities, the earliest of which was Talkomatic (1973) on the PLATO system, which allowed 5 people to chat simultaneously on a 512x512 plasma display (5 lines of text 1 status line per person).Short messages are typically transmitted between two parties, when each user chooses to complete a thought and select "send".Some IM applications can use push technology to provide real-time text, which transmits messages character by character, as they are composed.

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