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ike Riccardi would spend hours in chatrooms hosted by America Online as a teenager.When he heard the sound of a door creeping open ring from the speakers of his desktop computer, he’d perk up because the sound meant a friend was online, and they were free to chat.I just liked engaging people with my words and relationships.”Weger made many friends from these chatrooms, some of whom she has met and still keeps in touch with today.AOL was her first introduction to the internet, and on chatrooms, she spoke to a computer programmer for the first time. In exchange for being in the chatroom for certain hours and moderating, AOL would grant her free hours.
It’s incredibly difficult to even use the chatrooms, because you need AOL Desktop, a free program that when downloaded, feels like a glimpse back into the days of dial-up. And, just like in the 1990s, people looking for sex. She’s 72, and in her free time, she likes making miniature scenes and working in her garden.Along with this product came the away message, buddy icons, a personal profile, and eventually voice chat, file transfer, and chat bots.“It was a different time, because in the ‘90s, no one gave their real personal information on the internet,” says the now 35-year-old web developer.Users could also create private and public chatrooms and host scheduled events.Initially, mostly tech-minded people joined AOL chatrooms, since at the time, it wasn’t as common to own a home computer.