The Amiga ICQ Port Initiative

Support for giving Amiga users access to this growing online network

By Michael Webb, Editor-in-Chief, MikeWebb@CompuServe.COM

First off, the name given above ("The Amiga ICQ Port Initiative") is not an official name for the subject of this article. I actually made it up a few minutes ago. Just to avoid any confusion...

As the image link (you have to be online to see the image) above will show you, I'm writing about a subject that is more or less headquartered at a place called the Amiga ICQ Port Support Page.

What's ICQ?

You can find a great deal of information about ICQ and the effort to have it ported to the Amiga via the the Amiga ICQ Port Support Page, but I will give an introduction and general idea of what this is about.

If you're wondering where the term "ICQ" came from and what it means, just pronounce it. I.e., "ICQ" -> "I seek you." ICQ is run by Mirabilis, and as of the time of this writing, has over 8,000,000 subscribers.

To put it simply, ICQ involves an Internet client that allows real-time communication to occur among users. So in that sense, it's not unlike IRC or an ntalk client like AmTalk. So what's different? Well, ICQ is a lot more like an online service like CompuServe, Genie, or America Online, in that it is a large, centralized network. That is, fellow ICQ users can "spot" each other "online" anytime, and thereby communicate through a variety of media. For those familiar with AOL, as an example, text conversation via ICQ is a lot like Instant Messaging. Of course, ICQ doesn't have all the features and services of a full-fledged online service, but that's not what it's meant to be. What it really becomes is the platform for simply establishing the communication; the rest is essentially up to you, the user.

Of course, there's a catch (can you see this coming?): there's no Amiga version. Existing versions of the client software range from various flavors of Windows to 68k/PPC Mac and even to Java (which may be one way we could eventually get it, but at this time, that's no more a reality than Amiga ICQ itself), but not terribly surprisingly, there currently simply is no Amiga version.

Why Amiga?

ICQ has significant capability and potential, and it would not only enhance the overall online experience for existing Amiga users, but also serve as a positive point to potential newcomers to the platform. In addition, because it's a relatively simple service with a fairly small client program (compared to, say, America Online), it would probably be relatively easy to port it. Of course, we have to demonstrate to ICQ that it would be worth their trouble to develop (or have developed) an Amiga version of the software. But that's what this is all about. If you visit the Amiga ICQ Port Support Page, you'll be able to not only read and link to information on various intricasies of ICQ, but also show your support for the cause by effectively signing an online petition.

At the time of this writing, there are 3227 signatures on the petition, and the list is growing quickly (and yes, you'll find my name there..). This is therefore a call to the Amiga community to show its support for this cause. We would like everybody to please consider this; and if you agree that it would benefit our platform to have ICQ ported, please visit the Amiga ICQ Port Support Page and fill out the short form there.

The Amiga community is alive and well, and this goal is definitely within reach. So let's see if we can make this happen. We had PowerPC in '97, and we'll have Quake in '98; these are massive achievments for a platform so long-stranded. Porting a mere Internet client is certainly a less forboding task; might we see ICQ by '99...?