Yahoo Anniversary

Kind of a strange anniversary, in part because I cannot recall Yahoo ever reminding me that I had hit any previous annual milestones.  But this week they told me that my main account has been around for 24 years.

Perhaps my oldest still active email account at this point

Yahoo, for those too young to recall, was where we went for web searches before Google was a thing.  I mean sure, there were other options like Lycos and Alta Vista, but Yahoo was kind of the big dog in the search pack… before Google.  Yahoo used to be my default browser home page.

Yahoo, circa 1997

But at some point in 1998 I created a Yahoo account, and it was for a game.

This was also the age of the “everybody needs an instant messenger” app as things like ICQ and AOL Instant Messenger started being a way to communicate.  I already had both of those… I had an AOL account way back in the day… but in order to keep track of all of your friends you had to be on the services they used.  And for TorilMUD, Yahoo messenger became a thing.

So I guess back in June of 1998 I made a Yahoo account to get on that messenger service.  I know it was related to TorilMUD because my account was named for my main character there.

Of course, not everybody was on the plan and I ended up using an app called Trillian that united all of your instant messenger services into a single interface.  Cool idea, and I used that app regularly for about a decade.

And then, for various reason, instant messaging stopped being a thing… or a thing that could be monetized to support itself.  I stopped using Trillian because the services went away… or the people I knew on them stopped logging in… or, in the case of Yahoo, they withdrew third party API support in order to force people to use their own ad laden app.

So today all that really remains is the email address, which I still use now and then.  It is one of those things that I have had it for so long that I keep an eye on it because I never know who might pop out of the woodwork and drop me a note there.  It happens once in a while.  Though, most of the email I get there now is from Yahoo, either trying to get me to read their daily news headlines… half of which are sponsored ads… or trying to get me to upgrade to Yahoo premium email, which they promise will remove all of the ads.

But the joke is on them.  I rarely, if ever, go to the actual Yahoo web site.  I read my email there on my iPad using the Apple mail app.  Yahoo hasn’t cut that off yet, though they won’t do push notifications.  But when I open the mail app it pulls the latest email, which is good enough for me.  Nothing urgent is likely to be on that account.

Even this anniversary email was mostly just an ad to try and get me to upgrade my service.

Yahoo is such an early web story.  It was a huge big deal for a few years, and in my mind it occupies as big of a spot as Google when I think of the history of the web.  But by 1999, five years after Yahoo started up, I was already starting to use the new Google search engine… I heard about it by word of mouth because I was close to the Stanford grapevine… that crawled the web rather than requiring people to manually add sites to their index the way Yahoo did.

By the time I started this blog, Yahoo was mostly an email address and an IM option.  And today… today everybody is on Discord or Slack or some other service that is essentially group IM with voice chat added on I guess.  The only thing close to old school instant messaging I still use is Pidgin as a Jabber client for Imperium messaging… and I could just use Discord for that most days of the week.

5 thoughts on “Yahoo Anniversary

  1. Aywren Sojourner

    Haha… congrats!

    I used AIM until it was retired, then moved to Trillian for very personal IM chat. While I have Discord, I just don’t like the feeling of being logged into huge chat with a bunch of channels like that when all I want to do is interact with one or two people. So Trillian is still a thing for me until they pull the plug. Not sure what else is out there. Skype, I suppose.

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  2. Bhagpuss

    I still have a Yahoo email address. I have a lot of email addresses with a number of providers because I try not to keep all my eggs in one basket and every new mmorpg demands an email. In recent years, though, I have tended just to keep making more Gmail accounts since Google doesn’t seem to care how many I have. I am already uncomfortable with that but it just seems like too much effort to do anything about it.

    I never used IMs but I was heavily into whatever the Yahoo proto-social network was called back in the late ’90s. Either Yahoo Clubs or Yahoo Groups? It became so addictive I ended up dropping out of it altogether to save my sanity and that became the reason I never got onboard with any of the full-scale social networks when they started to appear a few years later.

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  3. Anonymous

    I still consider the initial Yahoo Messenger to be the pinnacle of Internet communication. The fact that it got replaced by worse things like Skype, Zoom or any other ugly, slow, non-customizable tools everyone uses nowadays… that is one huge failure. It could’ve been a contender… instead of a bum, which is what it is now.

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  4. evehermit

    Old Trillian and ICQ user here as well. My ICQ number was in the 17M range. Had a friend who was in the … 3M range from memory. Back when such things had bragging rights amongst nerds.

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  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @evehermit – I had a six digit ICQ number, which was apparently something worth bragging about at some point. I have it written down in a document in my archives.

    ICQ is around still, but I have long since forgotten the password and any possible recovery email address is decades in the past… and anyway, why would I need ICQ today in any case.

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