internet relay chat. Though mostly now used by career criminals. Back in the 90s and early 00s it was the a tool to communicate with other people.
Microsoft produced at the time a client called Microsoft comic chat which in one mode rendered the conversations as a sort of comic strip. This was the first time I had seen Comic Sans in use!
Later I would try and start a venture which sold IRC bots which spectacularly crashed and burned after we were DOS attacked. The hosting provider not only took us offline but removed our server and sent it back to us.