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. AOL acquired Mirabilis on June 8, 1998, for US$407 million.
In 2001, ICQ had over 100 million accounts registered. In April 2010, AOL sold ICQ to Digital Sky Technologies for $187.5 million.