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ICQ is an instant messaging computer program, which was first developed and popularized by the Israeli company Mirabilis, then bought by America Online, and since April 2010 owned by Mail.ru Group. The name ICQ is a homophone for the phrase "I seek you". This is an adaptation of the Morse code callout "CQ", which means "calling any station".

The first version of the program was released in November 1996 and ICQ became the first Internet-wide instant messaging service, later patenting the technology.[1] AOL acquired Mirabilis on June 8, 1998, for US$407 million.

In April 2010, AOL sold ICQ to Mail.ru Group for $187.5 million.[2] According to Time Warner, ICQ has over 100 million accounts registered.[3]



Mirabilis was first established in 1996 by five Israelis: Yair Goldfinger, Sefi Vigiser, Amnon Amir, Arik Vardi, and Arik's father Yossi Vardi. They recognized that many people were online accessing the Internet through a non-UNIX operating system, and that there was no software that enabled an immediate connection between them.

What was missing was the technology for locating and connecting the users of the Windows operating system.

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