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_Apparently AOL just was awarded a _[_patent_](http://news.com.com/2100-1023-978234.html?tag=fd_top)_ (filed in 1997) on Instant Messaging software.  This is insanity.  "Chat" applications have been around as long as the Internet itself. __[_[_Managed Space_](http://staff.develop.com/jasonw/weblog/)_]_ > >

Exactly. finger/talk anyone? I used these to determine if people were online and to then talk to them over a decade ago. Didn’t the old pre-Internet AOL and Compuserve include network user chats too?