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Chatrooms: History of IRC MUD and Voice Chat

Author: Disabled World : Contact:

Published: 2009-02-02 : (Rev. 2019-02-04)

Synopsis and Key Points:

History of chat rooms and chat safety including IRC instant messaging voice and other types of chatrooms.

Main Digest

Chat rooms have become one of the fastest-growing segments of the Internet. In part this is because many young people find them a great, fun, interactive playground in which to make new friends, chat simultaneously to a whole group of other users, or chat to just one individual.

Chat rooms are one of the most interactive Internet areas. They let you engage in a live, real-time conversations conversation with people around the block or around the world at the same time. chat rooms can give people a wonderful opportunity to make new friends anywhere in the world, and keep in touch with old ones. Chat one-on-one with people they might not otherwise get to talk to. Chat is instantaneous. When you type a message to someone and send it, they will see it straight away. They can then respond to you instantly. So, in effect, it's almost like having a conversation on the telephone!

Chat rooms let you talk with people in "real time" it's like a party online, where everyone in the chat room can see what you type, and you can see what everyone else types.

You can be chatting with three people and watching what everyone else in the room is chatting about too. There are several different types of chat rooms: open chats, where people discuss anything under the sun; topic-focused chat rooms, where people discuss a particular topic, like a TV show or a sports team; and moderated chats that feature a speaker who leads a discussion. Some chat rooms have a chaperone or moderator who are responsible for maintaining order. The monitor may be able to kick someone out of the chat for inappropriate behavior, but often this occurs after the fact. The majority of chatting that occurs online is either through the chat rooms set up by Internet Service Providers like AOL, or through the program Internet Relay Chat, or IRC.

Most chat is text based, where conversation is typed like e-mail bouncing back and forward between a group and appearing immediately on the screen. However, increasingly audio based chat is being offered - this requires the computer to have a microphone and speakers.

Why use a chat room?

Another reason people get on the Internet is to find chat rooms where they can chat with people from all over the world about various topics. Unlike e-mail and newsgroups, chat rooms are not a standardized service. They can be hosted on any type of server and have any type of interface through any protocol a chat room administrator chooses.

Online chats are ways for people to talk to each other by typing on their keyboards and having what they type show up on others' monitors. Currently the most common types of chats listed below.

MUD Servers

The name "MUD" first appeared in 1978 (Before Internet Relay Chat) when a student named Roy Trubshaw at the University of Essex, England, created a program that he called a "Multi-User Dungeon" (Reid, 1994). It was a multi-user adventure game loosely based upon the popular game known as "Dungeons and Dragons".
MUD was developed (Multi-User Dungeons) for virtual Reality games (and "chat") MUD gave birth to IRC "Internet Relay Chat" or chat.

Internet Relay Chat (IRC)

IRC is one of the the oldest type of multi-user chat on the Internet, operating since 1988. Since it is so old, some of its commands and features may seem archaic, having been designed keyboard and terminal interfaces, but modern IRC clients make it easier to use. IRC operates on networks of servers which relay messages to each other, so a user on one server can chat with users on any of the other servers on the same network. On some networks there are thousands of chat rooms, which are called "channels", and tens of thousands of users. The largest IRC networks are EFnet, Dalnet and Undernet, but there are many smaller networks. For more information on IRC, go to - What is IRC Chat.

ICQ Messenger and Aim Messenger are IRC like chat programs which also allow other functions such as sending e-mail and exchanging files. They work through a software program which you download and install on your computer. The program runs in the background while you are online with functions that are available on your desktop.

The Windows IRC client provided by NetWizards is mIRC, and the Mac IRC client is Ircle. For information about mIRC, visit For information about Ircle, check out the Official Ircle Home Page.

Web Chat

Many web sites now have online chat rooms. A common way is with Java chat. Java is a computer language designed to work on all computers, but it only works with newer, Java-enabled browsers. There are sites which offer a wide variety of "chat rooms", or a page might offer just one room. There are a wide variety of different types.

Instant Messaging

Instant messages have become very popular, because instant messaging programs can notify you when your friends are online and allow one-on-one chats, as well as multi-user chat rooms. However, each user has to use the same program to talk, and the programs are currently not compatible with each other.

The most popular ones include AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, and ICQ. NetWizards recommends Trillian, which combines all of these chat services, together with IRC.

Voice Chat

Voice chat allows people to speak and hear each other in their own voices, instead of just typing on their keyboards. This requires a microphone and speakers, and a voice-enabled chat program, such as Microsoft NetMeeting, PowWow or Internet Voice Chat.

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