For those not intimately familiar with the wondrous technology of the Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol Suite (heretouponafter referred to as the TCP/IP Suite - why "Transmission Control Protocol" and "Internet Protocol" get abbreviated but "Suite" doesn't is entirely beyond my mortal understanding), Internet Relay Chat (heretouponafter referred to as Internet Relay Chat if you're one of those City Council-type blowhards who wants to inflate their perceived intelligence by expanding all the acronyms they use (not a specific jab at any City Council members, but it's just that the kind of person who I think would lust for a position on the City Council is also the kind of person who I think would do this sort of thing) and as IRC if you're anyone else) was invented in 1988 by some dude in Finland in the course of about a day or some other preposterously short time, and remains to this day the most mercilessly bare-bones-looking Internet chat program out there.
As an actual Internet protocol, it goes through its own servers as opposed to crappy AIM crap that goes through HTTP servers - this really doesn't mean much to 80% of end users 80% of the time, but it gives you geek cred because you're not dependent on sucking AOL's corporate schlong for your daily chatroom fix.
Because that would be disgusting.
And IRC is disgusting too, but in entirely different ways. The thing about it is that it's got a very impressive-looking interface most of the time with user modes and channel modes and server modes and encoding and IRCds and commands and all sorts of awesome stuff that has the general effect of making you look like hot shit when you type in "/msg chanserv set #singchan mlock -t-m+i " and like eight server lines go soaring through your screen with all kinds of obfuscated technical crap on them. The primary implication of this being that people who have convinced themselves that they're "bad with computers" completely avoid IRC, as do people who have convinced themselves that only nerds use the command line. Although, really, using IRC is functionally the same experience as using AIM or ICQ, except they don't realize that because they see a bunch of words they don't understand when they first try to connect and then just abandon the entire protocol right then and there like it's a small child in a Finnish mall in 1988.
And after it realizes its mother is long gone, it decides to start wandering the mall and eventually gains an encyclopedic knowledge of video games from the GameStop demo consoles and an encyclopedic knowledge of manga from WaldenBooks and an encyclopedic knowledge of electrical engineering from God knows where and then it's 2010 and this child is 34 years old and has had extremely limited social contact but a freakishly extensive knowledge of video games and manga and the Internet.
So he goes on IRC and finds a thousand people exactly like himself to talk to about a wide range of subjects including video games, manga, electrical engineering, anime, video games, 4chan, ways in which the United States is better than the United Kingdom, ways in which the United Kingdom is definitely better than the United States which by the way is literally the most stupid country ever to exist, ways in which the preceding claim is completely unfounded and typical of an arrogant British mentality, ways in which both of you guys are obnoxious jackasses and nobody cares shut up, ways in which piss off you aren’t a part of this discussion anyway, ways in which all three participants in the above arguments are now banned from the channel, and then video games again for good measure.