The very first online chat service was offered by CompuServe and was called the CB Simulator. Released in 1980, the feature used familiar citizen’s band radio concepts to describe it’s functions such as using “bands” or “channels” to describe the different categories. This quickly became a popular product with virtually no marketing and eventually many more channels were added. CompuServe continued to enhance and add more features to CB Simulator over the years, including multiplayer games, pictures, and more. It was used for one of the first online conferences in 1995 and hosted one of the first real-time online weddings in 1991.
In 1983, CBSIM CB Simulator code was made publicly available, allowing BBS operators and private hobbyists to install and run their own chat system. It was the first to allow user to create their own channels, and could support up to 32 users. Software vendors used the open source code to create other popular BBS-based chat systems, paving the way for the stylized chat rooms that came later with AOL and other ISPs.