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What is Real Time Communication?

Real-time communication allows people to interact and exchange information instantly, just like having a conversation face-to-face. It enables individuals to connect and communicate with others in a fast and seamless way, regardless of their location.

Real-time communication is not limited to just text messages. It can also include voice calls, video chats, and even sharing files or images instantaneously through platforms like Skype, Facetime or Whatsapp, among many others.

To achieve real-time communication, software developers use technologies like instant messaging protocols, voice-over-IP (VoIP) systems, video conferencing tools, and real-time data streaming. These technologies help ensure that messages, sounds, and images are transmitted quickly and accurately between devices.

Skype was one of the pioneers in establishing real-time communications at a very low cost in the early 2000s. It was founded in 2003 by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, two entrepreneurs from Sweden and Denmark, respectively. Zennström had previously co-founded the peer-to-peer file-sharing service Kazaa, while Friis had experience in the tech industry.

The idea for Skype emerged from the founders’ desire to create a more efficient and cost-effective way for people to communicate over long distances. They recognized that traditional long-distance calls were expensive and wanted to make international communication more accessible to everyone.

Zennström and Friis decided to leverage peer-to-peer (P2P) technology to enable voice and video calls over the internet. P2P technology allowed users to connect directly with each other without relying on centralized servers, making the service more scalable and resilient. The Skype development team, led by Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu, and Jaan Tallinn (who had also worked on Kazaa), began building the Skype software. They focused on creating a user-friendly interface that would make it easy for people to make voice calls over the internet. Skype went through several iterations and beta testing phases to refine the product.

Skype was officially launched to the public on August 29, 2003. It initially supported voice calls and instant messaging, making it an attractive option for people looking to stay in touch with friends and family across the globe. Skype’s ease of use, high-quality voice calls, and low cost (especially for international calls) quickly made it a hit among users. Word of mouth played a significant role in its rapid adoption.

Skype continued to grow in popularity, and the company introduced new features like video calling, file sharing, and group chat. Partnerships with hardware manufacturers also allowed Skype to be pre-installed on computers and devices, further increasing its user base.

In 2005, eBay acquired Skype for approximately $2.6 billion, with the idea that Skype’s communication capabilities would enhance online auctions and e-commerce. However, this synergy did not materialize as expected, and eBay eventually sold a majority stake in Skype in 2009.

In 2011, Microsoft acquired Skype for $8.5 billion, recognizing its potential in the broader technology ecosystem. Under Microsoft’s ownership, Skype continued to evolve, integrating with other Microsoft products like Windows, Office, and Xbox. Skype continued to innovate with features such as Skype for Business (now part of Microsoft Teams) and Skype for Web. It also expanded its reach to mobile platforms, making it accessible on smartphones and tablets.

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