You had to be there. It was a long time ago. Long before AIM, and Gmail chat, and MSN Messenger, and Skype, and ICQ, and Trillian and the like, the ancestor of online chatting was – and still is – called IRC. It stands for Internet Chat Relay. I spent hours on it, in chat rooms called channels, using the ever-popular mIRC and ViRC programs, writing scripts, customizing my messages, implementing colors, offering roses, seeking privileges, learning the syntax and the codes, wasting precious time, getting addicted. Then I got Jouche addicted too. Mea culpa. And then I bailed.

Nowadays, modern chat clients are so much more powerful and user friendly, but they cater mostly to individual conversations and the idea of public channels never really took off until Facebook appeared.

The difference with IRC is that it was geeky and took quite a while to master. But entire online communities built themselves around those channels. Some of them still exist I’m sure, but I’ve lost touch. I’ve forgotten the language. I’ve moved on. Yet I keep a copy of mIRC on my laptop. One never knows. IRC remains a valuable resource when it comes to finding live, up-to-date info about the weirdest, most remote things, fast.

Here are a few quotes from actual IRC conversations. They were found here. They are much funnier if you’re a geek and if you were there.

(+ware) I rear-ended a car this morning. So there we are alongside the road and
(+ware) slowly the driver gets out of the car . . . and you know how you just get sooo
(+ware) stressed and life seems to get funny?
(+ware) Well, I could NOT believe it . . he was a DWARF! He storms over to my car,
(+ware) looks up at me and says, "I AM NOT HAPPY!"
(+ware) So, I look down at him and say, "Well, which one are you then?"… and
(+ware) THAT’S when the fight started . .

<frank> can you help me install GTA3?
<knightmare> first, shut down all programs you aren’t using
* frank has quit IRC. (Quit) **
<knightmare> …

<pronstar“afk> my kazaa preformed an illegal opperation
<cCCPehlet`> isn’t that what kazaa is designed to do?

<fabz> I think we need to work on our communication.. one guy is talking crap, one just goes "lol" and the other one doesn’t understand what’s going on
<atsleek> lol
<Nefemus> what?

<idsif> you’re smarter than the average american
<ascian> of course. i’m canadian.

<Beeth> Girls are like internet domain names, the ones I like are already taken.
<honx> well, you can stil get one from a strange country : -P

** That’s a system message that appears when a user closes his IRC program. Duh. (Vince)