A chat is a casual conversation. The term has now become associated mostly with online chat services or computer programs. Chats allow users to converse in real time rather than posting through emails or forums which can result in a delayed response. The history of chat has really evolved over the years.
There are various types of chatrooms on the market. The types are seperated depending on its programming language. Talkomatic was one of the most primitive forms of chat communication born in 1973. It was very limited when compared to today's standards as only five users could chat with eachother at the same time with single letters being displayed each time a user typed. This was used primarily for education purposes and did not reach mainstream usage. From there, the birth of Compuserve came. It acted more as a commercial service for users to interact online. It even lead to the first marriage as a direct result of meeting online. IRC (Internet Relay Chat) was one of the original types. It was originally written by a man named Jarkko Oikarinen in the year 1988. Since starting in Finland, it has been used in over sixty countries around the World. It was designed as a replacement for the "talk" program. IRC is a multi-user chat system, where people convene on "channels" (a virtual place, usually with a topic of conversation) to talk in groups, or privately. IRC is constantly evolving. Another chat language which has flourished in recent years is Java. It is a programming language utilized to create applications that allow many users to connect in the same environment (chat session). The reason for its widespread use is that it is more stable and customizable than the older Internet Relay Chat systems. Outside of IRC, there were many mainstream chat room programs that flourished including AOL around 1992, Prodigy in 1992, and Yahoo which came out in 1997. One other chat technology is developed from Flash language. Flash allows for further customization and stability than Java chats. It is also known to be more secure than the Java chat rooms. In recent months, a new and more modern "add-on" to user chat sessions are the uses of video chat applications. This allows a user to use normal text based chat, but also add a webcam to the conversation to allow for live feed of the person who they are interacting with. Lately, due to some security issues, many chat software has been moving away from Flash and back into Java with further enhancements through cross platform technology such as "Node.js". This allows for a more pleasant chat experience.
There are many other ways besides chat programs to communicate with other individuals over your computer. The most popular are Instant Messaging systems. They allow users to create a contact list and be able to connect directly through their Instant Messaging application to the individual they are talking to. (the other user must have the same application installed). Some examples of the most popular ones include MSN Messenger, Google Talk and AIM (AOL Instant Messaging) which formed in 1997 and had about 19,000 chat rooms by 1997.
Chat rooms are set up to provide the interaction that users require in a live text based (or video chat) format.
Most chat rooms on the Internet are provided for free. There are some exceptions, however. Some charge a monthly or per usage fee.
Chat rooms now utilize an array of features including webcams, voice chatting, integration with social media websites such as Facebook or Twitter, games, emoticon usages and even gift type systems to help make the user experience better.
Chat rooms currently do not have the mainstream use that they had in years past. With the introduction of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Friendster and Myspace, many people have gone away from chatroom usage. However, there are still many people who prefer the anonymous protection that chat rooms give and a loyal following still exists today.