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Why does ICQ use numbers as screen names?

 3:36 pm on Oct 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

Why does ICQ have numbers as usernames, as opposed to actual names like AOL, MSN, etc. Doesn't AOL own ICQ?




 3:39 pm on Oct 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

I believe it's so everyone can have the Username of their choice as the number is unique...


 3:50 pm on Oct 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

Its because ICQ didn't *used* to be owned by AOL and back then it probably seemed a lot more sensible to use a number to identify someone uniquely rather than an arbitary name which world+dog had already registered leaving newcomers with even harder names to remember like bob213213.

- Tony


 7:06 pm on Oct 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

Giving everyone a number as unique identifier makes a ton of sense.

Like Dreamquick said, using names or nicks as the identifier makes it more difficult to choose a name.

Why should I not be able to call myself "John Smith" if thats my name? If most people will only have one "John Smith" in their user list, there's no problem.

I don't think that anyone at AOL ever thought through the possible problems of having millions of users .. all required to have unique names.


 7:17 pm on Oct 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

I believe it's so everyone can have the Username of their choice as the number is unique...

Doesn't it really mean that no one has the username of their choice, as everyone has an arbitrarily-assigned number? :)

Remember that Compuserve used to use only numbers instead of usernames. Then at one point they began to let existing members choose a custom username, letting most "senior" members choose first before letting new signups begin to have custom names.

I might be wrong, but I'd expect that most users would prefer to be able to choose a username, even though it can be frustrating trying to find one that isn't taken.


 7:24 pm on Oct 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

No what it means is that I can assign my number a variety of factors which uniquely identify myself in addition to a (potentially non-unique) alias.

If someone whom knows me can search for me then they can find my number (or more likely my nubmer and my current chosen alias) and then seemlessly add me to their buddy list or whatever.

Then at a later date if I decide my username is too childish or whatever I can easily change it and not have to worry about telling all my contacts that I changed - try that on AIM!

- Tony

[edited by: Dreamquick at 7:26 pm (utc) on Oct. 28, 2002]


 7:25 pm on Oct 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

ICQ assigns every account a UIN. That's just to make life easy for the world.

If every user of ICQ wanted their Display Name to be Bob, they could. No one would care, and it wouldn't break a thing. (It would just be very confusing!)

The Display Name can be changed at will, and doesn't have to be unique across their network(that's what the UINs are for).

UIN = your ICQ account number
Display Name = the name you want people to see you as

Don't confuse them, they serve completely different purposes.

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