In the late 1990s, AOL's chat rooms were some of the most popular in the world.
According to statistics from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 55 percent of online teens and 28 percent of online adults used chat rooms in 2000 [source: Pew Internet & American Life Project].
Launched to the public in 1980, the CB simulator capitalized on the explosive (if short-lived) popularity of citizen's band radio culture in American country music and movies [source: PC Magazine].
Users could exchange real-time messages (loaded with lots of CB slang) on 40 different channels, which later evolved into the concept of rooms.
In the mid-1980s, a company called Play Net began tinkering with the combination of real-time chat and online games.
Users could play chess or backgammon against an opponent and talk trash at the same time.
But by 2005, those numbers had fallen to 18 percent of teens and 17 percent of adults [source: Pew Internet & American Life Project].