Prodigy

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Website
Name: Prodigy
Owner/Maintainer:
Dates: 1984-2001
Type: Online service provider
Fandom:
URL:
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Prodigy was an early online service provider, along with Compuserve and AOL helped bring people online in the 1990s and helped fans connect with each other in ways never imagined before.

Some History (With a Star Trek Focus)

It was back in the early ‘90s, when people were first discovering that their PCs did something even better than word processing: going online. Via dial-up modem, one could connect to one of several subscription based online services, like Compuserve, America Online, and….

Prodigy. The country bumpkin of online services, Prodigy had a graphical interface and was designed to be simple to use, but lacked a lot of the functionality of the other services (in large part because, as a subsidiary of IBM, it did not use the newly developed Windows OS of archrival Microsoft, as AOL did -- but I digress).

What other services usually called forums, Prodigy called bulletin boards – the feature that allowed users to interact via text messages (not in real time – chat would only come later). It tells you a lot about the lack of imagination of Prodigy execs that BBS were added to the service as something of an afterthought. They woefully underestimated people’s appetite for communication with total strangers about topics of interest. Of course, before long, fandom sprang up on the BBS, and Star Trek fandom was front and center. TNG was in its first run, and Trekkies who had never had an easy way to connect with fellow fans were thrilled to be able to find each other and interact.

As is wont to happen, like-minded groups began to form, creating their own “subjects” (Prodigy’s designation for user-created threads, before anyone realized that these would become more like communities than topics). One was Adult Trek Fans (ATF) – the “adult” indicating serious discussion, not porn, which was most emphatically prohibited on Prodigy. But people tended to get off topic, crack wise, and generally goof around, so a spinoff subject was created. [1]

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References

  1. ^ from The True Story of the Original Star Trek Prodigy (2021)