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At the age of ten life seems simple, it's all about running jumping and climbing trees. By eighteen you have discovered the opposite sex, alcohol and nightclubs. By twenty five you are your own person, confident and full of life. Suddenly you hit thirty. You find yourself questioning your choices from the years that have past, feeling slightly left on the shelf, wondering where your life is heading, juggling family and friends and faced with ever aging parents. You are not alone, welcome to 30 years and countinga sideways look at life in your thirties.

Remembering when chat rooms ruled the web

Just about all sites these days offer chat features or instant messaging but back in the late 1990's you had three options for communicating, namely send an email, post something in a forum or jump into a chatroom. There was no Windows live messenger, no skype or Facebook chat box. Instead users would head over to a site (my favourite was as shown in the image below, I used the name Scareyman most of the time) and chat there. Some sites offered just one simple room while others had a whole range of different rooms you could chat in.

Whatever the set up was they all worked in pretty much the same way; you were asked for a user name and then added to the chatroom, as others already logged in typed a message into an input box at the bottom of the screen it would appear on the ever scrolling screen in front of you. That was it. Conversations often got very confusing as you usually could not send a message to one person directly and instead had to select them from the list of users and then watch for a reply to scroll past on the screen. It was a simple system which any coder could now knock up in a lunch break but in a time when text messages and instant chat did not exist it felt like the future. I spent many a day in my university library on the computer talking in chatrooms, often to people who in reality were actually sat in the library with me just a few seats away. Much studying time was spent hitting "refresh" trying to beat the full room blues. Thank goodness for those sites that offered crafty backdoors.

Here is a rather funny clip of Johnny Vegas (a British comedian) talking about his memories of chatrooms back in the 90's on the TV show Room 101. He sums it up perfectly.

Sadly technology developed and instant messaging systems took over. But we owe a great deal to these early chatrooms. Firstly they paved the way for the technology that was to follow. They established with the forums through trial and error rules and etiquette for messaging which we now follow (for example we all know that typing in capitals is considered shouting). They introduced the world to the "Poke" and other such basic actions which are still to be found on sites like Facebook. They functioned as the first breeding grounds for online role playing which grew to become games such as World of Warcraft. Most importantly they defined many of the words which have now become part of not just the language of the Internet but also our everyday lives, examples include lol, brb and  lmao to name but a few. They may have been simple but social networks would not be what they are today without them.

The traditional version of the chatroom has died a bit of a death due to the fact that they never worked that well to start with. Most have been replaced by Java scripts or alike. To be honest I'm yet to find a really good traditional style chatroom so once again it is over to you, if you know of one then do get in touch. Yahoo offers a number of chatrooms through its messenger system and this seems to be the most popular form of the modern chatroom, you can find details about it here. As a side note there is also a Facebook group for those who used which you can join. There is even talk of relaunching the chatroom once again. You can find the group here

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