The inclusion of "iChat never worked" as well as the current version does point to other problems
This may be whether your Mac Firewall is On and is allowing these apps and their supports apps (IMAgent in Lion Onwards and iChat agent in iChat 5/Snow Leopard and earlier.
It could also be your Router and any ports it needs opening and whether it too has a firewall that also needs the ports opening.
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4245 Lists the iOS devices port needs for FaceTime and Messages.
They would be no different on a Mac.
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1507 Details the ports iChat 4 and earlier used.
These are reduced now. AIM logs in on port 443 (rather than 5190), port 5060 is not longer used.
A/V chats are on one port reducing the "group of 20" (16384-16403) to just 10 (16393-16402)
iChat would have been AIM, Jabber or in iChat 6 Yahoo as well and not iMessages
iMessages needs both port 443 than 5223 to Login (Jabber uses port 5223 as well and this maybe where your iChat attempts and the current ones cross over.
10:57 pm Friday; February 28, 2014 iMac 2.5Ghz i5 2011 (Mavericks 10.9)
G4/1GhzDual MDD (Leopard 10.5.8)
MacBookPro 2Gb (Snow Leopard 10.6.8)
Mac OS X (10.6.8),
Couple of iPhones and an iPad