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Encyclopedia > Prodigy (ISP)
Prodigy Communications, L.P.
Type Defunct (Part of AT&T)
Founded 1984
Headquarters Austin, Texas, USA
Industry Telecommunications
Products Telephone, Internet, Television

Prodigy Communications Corporation (Prodigy Services Corp., Prodigy Services Co., Trintex) was an interactive service which offered its subscribers access to a broad range of networked services, including news, weather, shopping, bulletin boards, games, polls, expert columns, banking, stocks, travel, and a variety of other features. Initially subscribers using personal computers accessed the Prodigy service by means of POTS dialup or X.25 dialup. In the 1990 - 1991 timeframe, LAN and cable modem access were enabled. The company claimed it was the first consumer online service, differentiating itself from the leading service provider, CompuServe, which was used mostly by technophiles. Image File history File links New_Prodigy_Logo_(Ball). ... ... AT&T Inc. ... Year 1984 (MCMLXXXIV) was a leap year starting on Sunday (link displays the 1984 Gregorian calendar). ... Nickname: Location in the state of Texas Coordinates: , Country United States State Texas Counties Travis County, Williamson County Government  - Mayor Will Wynn Area  - City  296. ... Telecommunication involves the transmission of signals over a distance for the purpose of communication. ... This article or section includes a list of works cited or a list of external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks in-text citations. ... CompuServe, (in full, CompuServe Information Services, or CIS), was the first major commercial online service in the United States. ... Technophilia is, in its simplest definition, a strong enthusiasm for technology, especially newer technologies such as computers, the Internet, cell phones and home theater. ...

Contents

Early history

An early advertisement for Prodigy service.

The earliest roots of Prodigy date back to 1980 when broadcaster CBS and telecommunications firm AT&T formed a joint venture named Venture One in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. The company conducted a market test of 100 homes in nearby Ridgewood to gauge consumer interest in a Videotex-based TV set top device that would allow consumers to shop at home and receive news, sports and weather. After concluding the market test, CBS and AT&T took the data and went their separate ways in pursuit of developing and pursuing this market. Image File history File links Prodigy_Advertisement. ... Image File history File links Prodigy_Advertisement. ... Year 1980 (MCMLXXX) was a leap year starting on Tuesday (link displays the 1980 Gregorian calendar). ... CBS is one of the largest radio and television networks in the United States. ... AT&T Inc. ... Map highlighting Fair Lawns location within Bergen County. ... Map highlighting Ridgewoods location within Bergen County. ... Videotex is a system for sending of pages of text to a user in computer form, typically to be displayed on a television. ...


Prodigy was founded on February 13, 1984 as Trintex, a joint venture between CBS, computer manufacturer IBM, and retailer Sears, Roebuck and Company. CBS left the venture in 1986 when CBS CEO Tom Wyman was divesting of properties outside of CBS's core broadcasting business. The company's service was launched regionally in 1988 in Atlanta, Hartford, and San Francisco under the simple moniker, "Prodigy." A nationwide launch followed on September 6, 1990. Year 1984 (MCMLXXXIV) was a leap year starting on Sunday (link displays the 1984 Gregorian calendar). ... International Business Machines Corporation (known as IBM or Big Blue; NYSE: IBM) is a multinational computer technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, USA. The company is one of the few information technology companies with a continuous history dating back to the 19th century. ... This article refers to Sears as it existed prior to its merger with Kmart. ... Year 1986 (MCMLXXXVI) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link displays 1986 Gregorian calendar). ... Year 1988 (MCMLXXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Friday (link displays 1988 Gregorian calendar). ... Hotlanta redirects here. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Nickname: Location of the City and County of San Francisco, California Coordinates: , Country United States of America State California City-County San Francisco Government  - Mayor Gavin Newsom Area  - City  47 sq mi (122 km²)  - Land  46. ...


Thanks to an aggressive marketing campaign in the media, bundling with various consumer-oriented computers such as IBM's PS/1, and PS/2, as well as various clones and Hayes Modems, the Prodigy service soon had more than a million subscribers. For the service to withstand traffic, Prodigy built a national network of POP (points-of-presence) sites that made local access numbers available for most homes in the U.S. This was a major factor in the expansion of the service since subscribers did not have to dial long distance to access the service. The subscriber only paid for the local call (usually free), while Prodigy paid for the long distance call to its national data center in Yorktown, New York. The IBM PS/1 personal computer was IBMs return to the home market in 1990, five years after the IBM PCjr. ... The Personal System/2 or PS/2 was IBMs second generation of personal computers. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Hayes Communications was a U.S.-based manufacturer of modems. ... Yorktown is a town in Westchester County, New York, in the suburbs of New York City about 38 miles north of midtown Manhattan. ...


Development

Prodigy had hoped that its service would be much like today's Internet portals, offering news, weather, sports, shopping for groceries or general merchandise, banking, brokerage services, and airline reservations. The service provided many lifestyle features, including popular syndicated columnists, Zagat restaurant surveys, Consumer Reports articles and test reports, games for kids and adults, in-depth original features called "Timely Topics," bulletin boards moderated by subject matter experts, and e-mail. All of this was presented with a graphical user interface based on NAPLPS and supported by proprietary programs installed on the subscriber's PC (The emphasis was on DOS, and later Microsoft Windows. Apple Macintosh was also supported, but the Prodigy screens were not always configured to the Mac standard, resulting in wasted space or cut-off graphics.). The initial business model was based on fixed, low monthly fees for unlimited use, with advertising and online shopping to generate huge profits (with few exceptions each "page" of Prodigy had the equivalent of a banner ad on it). Zagat Survey was established by Tim and Nina Zagat in 1979 as a way to collect and correlate the ratings of restaurants by diners. ... NAPLPS (North American Presentation Level Protocol Syntax) is a graphics language for use originally with videotex services. ...

The sign in screen for DOS-based Prodigy Service.

Under the guidance of editor Jim Bellows, Prodigy developed a fully staffed 24x7 newsroom with editors, writers and graphic artists intent on building the world's first true online medium. Image File history File links Prodigy_Sign_In_Screen. ... Image File history File links Prodigy_Sign_In_Screen. ... Jim Bellows is considered to be one of the most influencial figures in American journalism of the 20th century. ...


Some of its shopping applications were judged as somewhat successful by the company, but others were not. Reasons for difficulty in online shopping for Prodigy included the novelty nature of online purchasing, which was new and perhaps somewhat suspect. (Though the novelty aspect of an online purchase also was the reason in favor of some sales among so-called "early adopter" consumers.) A primary reason for poor online merchandising was the nature of the graphics presented. Using the early NAPLPS graphic standard, it was not possible to render realistic images of products. So while commercial clients with presence on the Prodigy Service might have some success with an electronic order blank supporting a print catalog, it was difficult to market products. Prodigy retains the distinction of having launched ESPN's online presence and growing such firms as PC Flowers into some of the online world's earliest success stories. Still, marketers had yet to recognize the power of this new medium, so revenue from advertising was limited. Brand advertising sites on Prodigy were often seen as experimental by marketers and might be funded by research and development budgets, as opposed to media budgets. Cash flow problems forced Prodigy to increase its user fees. NAPLPS (North American Presentation Level Protocol Syntax) is a graphics language for use originally with videotex services. ... ESPN, formerly an acronym for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, is an American cable television network dedicated to broadcasting sports-related programming 24 hours a day. ...


Since Prodigy's business model depended on rapidly growing advertising and online shopping revenue, e-mail was developed primarily to aid shopping, not for general communication between users. However, the bulletin boards and email proved very popular--so popular that Prodigy, alarmed by increasing costs, moved to ration their use by allowing only a limited number (thirty) of e-mail messages free each month and charging twenty-five cents for each additional e-mail message. This policy was later rescinded. But in the summer of 1993, in a similar attempt to offset usage costs, it began charging hourly rates for what had become it most popular feature, its message boards. Many regular message board users did not fully appreciate what this meant until they received three-digit bills for the previous month's activity, in the place of what had been standard bills for about $20. Members began quitting the service in droves, and a downward slide began that the company was never able to halt. It later rescinded the hourly rates for message boards, but the damage had been done. Year 1993 (MCMXCIII) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display full 1993 Gregorian calendar). ...


One explanation for Prodigy's slow response to a changing marketplace may be due to the conservative cultural bent of IBM and Sears, Prodigy was slow to adopt features that made its rival, AOL, so appealing -- for example, anonymous handles, online chat, and unmoderated bulletin boards. As with all services at that time, member turnover ("churn") was a major problem. Another explanation for Prodigy's downward slide may have more to do with Prodigy's original value proposition. The service was primarily built as a platform for information services, shopping and advertising, not communication. Other services focused on - or at least had available - more robust communications tools. History has shown that users found such communications tools of high value and it was not until well into the late 1990s that online shopping and similar services became more accepted in the marketplace. It has been suggested that AOL search data scandal be merged into this article or section. ...


Prodigy stuck with its graphical interface, its proprietary content, and its traditional policies while other services, notably AOL, embraced open standards and grew faster. In the early-1990s, the explosive growth of the Internet threatened to leave Prodigy behind, despite its high ranking in consumer satisfaction and reliability surveys (unlike AOL, which was derided for its busy signals, security issues and other problems.). It has been suggested that AOL search data scandal be merged into this article or section. ... For the band, see 1990s (band). ... It has been suggested that AOL search data scandal be merged into this article or section. ...


Conversion to a true ISP

The "ball" Prodigy logo used in the late-'90s.

In 1994 Prodigy became the first of the early-generation dialup services to offer access to the World Wide Web and to offer Web page hosting to its members. Since Prodigy was not a true internet service provider, programs that needed an Internet connection, such as Internet Explorer and Quake multiplayer, could not be used with the service. Prodigy developed its own web browser, but it lagged well behind the mainstream browsers in features. In 1995 through 1996 Prodigy unveiled several Internet related products. Access to USENET Newsgroups was made available to Prodigy members via the Prodigy interface software. And Prodigy's first web presence, called Astranet, was released shortly thereafter. Astranet was to be a web-based news and information service, possibly advertiser supported, though the site was considered experimental and had not fully worked out its offering or business model. In 1997, the company retooled itself as a true internet service provider, making its main offering Internet access branded as Prodigy Internet and de-emphasizing its antiquated interface and its own editorial content, which were rebranded as Prodigy Classic. Prodigy Classic was discontinued in November, 1999 because it was decided that for financial reasons, its aging software should not be updated for Y2K. In the end, the service had 209,000 members. Image File history File links New_Prodigy_Logo. ... Image File history File links New_Prodigy_Logo. ... 1994 (MCMXCIV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated as the International Year of the Family and the International Year of the Sport and the Olympic Ideal by United Nations. ... WWWs historical logo designed by Robert Cailliau The World Wide Web (or the Web) is a system of interlinked, hypertext documents accessed via the Internet. ... “ISP” redirects here. ... Windows Internet Explorer (formerly Microsoft Internet Explorer), and commonly abbreviated to IE, is a series of proprietary graphical web browsers developed by Microsoft and included as part of the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems starting in 1995. ... Zombies attacking the player at the starting of Episode 1, Mission 3: The Necropolis. ... “ISP” redirects here. ... Look up November in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Year 1999 (MCMXCIX) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display full 1999 Gregorian calendar). ... The year 2000 problem (also known as the Y2K problem and the millennium bug) was a flaw in computer program design that caused some date-related processing to operate incorrectly for dates and times on and after January 1, 2000. ...


A public company

In 1996, Prodigy was acquired by the former founders of Boston Technology and their new firm International Wireless, with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helú, a principal owner of Telmex, as a minority investor. IBM and Sears sold their interests to this group for $200 million. It was estimated that IBM and Sears had invested more than $1 billion in the service since its founding. Year 1996 (MCMXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display full 1996 Gregorian calendar). ... Carlos Slim Helú (born January 28, 1940 in Mexico City) is a Mexican businessman. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...


Prodigy continued to operate as before, while Telmex provided Internet access under the Prodigy brand in Mexico and other parts of Latin America, with some services being provided by Prodigy Communications in the United States. Latin America consists of the countries of South America and some of North America (including Central America and some the islands of the Caribbean) whose inhabitants mostly speak Romance languages, although Native American languages are also spoken. ...


Prodigy went public in 1999, trading on the NASDAQ under the symbol PRGY. Later that year, Prodigy entered a strategic partnership with SBC Communications wherein Prodigy would provide Internet services and SBC would provide exclusive sales opportunities and network, particularly DSL, facilities. The strategic partnership also gave SBC a 43% ownership interest in Prodigy. Year 1999 (MCMXCIX) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display full 1999 Gregorian calendar). ... SBC Communications NYSE: SBC is an American telecommunications company based in San Antonio, Texas. ... A DSL Modem DSL or xDSL, is a family of technologies that provide digital data transmission over the wires of a local telephone network. ...


On November 6, 2001, SBC purchased 100% interest in Prodigy and brought it private. On November 14, 2001, SBC and Yahoo! announced the strategic alliance to create the co-branded SBC Yahoo!. Sometime thereafter, SBC ceased offering new Prodigy accounts, and customers were encouraged to migrate to the SBC Yahoo! product line, while being able to keep their {username}@Prodigy.net email addresses. Year 2001 (MMI) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar. ... “Yahoo” redirects here. ... AT&T Yahoo! logo AT&T Yahoo! is an information service from SBC Internet Services. ...


Criticisms

Spyware-like behavior

Prodigy was accused in late 1990 and early 1991 of spying on its users; this was one of the first online privacy scares. The evidence offered was bits and pieces of user data showing up in two files created by the software installed on subscribers' PCs: STAGE.DAT and CACHE.DAT. Prodigy contended that the data were never transmitted; in fact, their software was preallocating disk space but not zeroing it before use -- a conscious choice intended to reduce startup time on slow home computers. The unzeroed storage contained fragments of data from deleted user files. Some users claimed user data appeared even on freshly formatted disks that had Prodigy installed on them, although real evidence of this was never presented. Prodigy demonstrated to several public agencies that none of the data was ever transmitted, but rumors persisted. To quell the bad publicity, Prodigy sent users on request a floppy disk labeled "Prodigy Stage/Cache Utility Software." These contained a program to zero out the STAGE.DAT and CACHE.DAT files, eliminating the suspicious data. Year 1990 (MCMXC) was a common year starting on Monday (link displays the 1990 Gregorian calendar). ... Year 1991 (MCMXCI) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the 1991 Gregorian calendar). ... Spy and secret agent redirect here; for alternate use, see Spy (disambiguation) and Secret agent (disambiguation). ... In cryptography, zeroisation (also spelled zeroization) is the practice of erasing sensitive parameters (especially keys) from a cryptographic module to prevent their disclosure if the equipment is captured. ... A floppy disk is a data storage device that is composed of a disk of thin, flexible (floppy) magnetic storage medium encased in a square or rectangular plastic shell. ...


Content Control

Being the forerunner in this new medium, there was little case law and Prodigy was also the leader in litigation and censorship claims. While some claimed that Prodigy was an editorial entity such as a newspaper or radio station whose content was subject to legal statutes such as defamation, slander and the like, Prodigy argued that it was a communications entity such as a telephone company whose "content" (i.e. telephone conversations) they were not responsible for. They were simply the medium across which these communications occurred.


Claims of censorship included users of public forums who were forbidden to mention other users by name. The most infamous example of this was a coin collector's message, banned because it contained the phrase "Roosevelt dime" - there was, as it happened, a Prodigy subscriber named "Roosevelt Dime." A wildlife discussion group found that the word "beaver" was forbidden; they had to call the animal by its scientific name. Moderators on boards dedicated to computer games would delete posts based on the games' storylines rather than gameplay. Criticisms of the Prodigy service in its public forums were often deleted. Users tried to work around Prodigy's various strictures. For instance, to beat the thirty-message email limit, some users set up "undergrounds" -- shared accounts where they communicated by sending messages back to the same account. When they became popular, even typing the abbreviation "UG" (Under/Ground) could get a message automatically deleted. Coin collecting is the hobby of collecting coins. ... Species C. canadensis C. fiber Beavers are semi-aquatic rodents native to North America and Europe. ...


Pioneering and unusual aspects

Prodigy pioneered the concept of Online Communities. A Content Department was responsible for creating and developing different Content Areas for specific topics. Each Content Area had a Prodigy Producer who gave contracts to Prodigy subscribers to assist in running the communities in exchange for a small stipend. Each community consisted of a Website, a Chat Area with different rooms, and a Bulletin Board.


Unlike many other services, Prodigy started out with flat-rate pricing. In a reversal of the trend seen with most other services at the time, Prodigy went from flat-rate pricing to hourly rates in June 1993, causing a large exodus from the service.[citation needed] 1993 is a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar and marked the Beginning of the International Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination (1993-2003). ...

The original Prodigy logo used until the late-'90s when it was replaced by the "ball" logo.

Prodigy was also one of the first to offer a user-friendly GUI when competing services, such as CompuServe and GEnie, were still text-based. Prodigy used this graphical capability to deploy heavy advertising, which it hoped would bring additional revenue. Image File history File links PRODIGY.gif‎ This was the logo of the Internet service provider Prodigy, which was rescently bought out by AT&T. Credits to http://www. ... Image File history File links PRODIGY.gif‎ This was the logo of the Internet service provider Prodigy, which was rescently bought out by AT&T. Credits to http://www. ... GUI can refer to the following: GUI is short for graphical user interface, a term used to describe a type of interface in computing. ... Genie is the English term for the Arabic جن (jinn). ...


Prodigy was also forerunner in caching data at the local sites to minimize its long distance expenses.


Prodigy's legacy architecture was novel at the time and anticipated much of current web browser technology. It leveraged the power of the subscriber's PC to maintain session state, handle the user interface, and process applications formed from data and interpretative program objects which were largely pulled from the network when needed. At a time when in the state of the art, distributed objects were handled by RPC equivalents (essentially remote function calls to well known servers in which final results were returned to the caller), Prodigy pioneered the concept of actually returning interpretable, "platform independent" objects to the caller for subsequent processing. This approach anticipated such things as Java applets and Javascript. A strong argument can be made that Prodigy pioneered true distributed object-oriented client-server implementations as well as incidental innovations such as the equivalent of HTML Frames, pre-fetch, etc. Prodigy patented its implementation (US 5,347,632 et al.) and these patents are, as of this entry, among the most highly cited of all software patents.


Downfall

Prodigy was frequently hurt by poor management decisions. Those in charge failed to understand the developing medium, giving at least the impression of disdaining users' wishes, constraining usage rather than catering to it. For example, when subscribers used more connect time on email or message boards, Prodigy discouraged such usage by changing fee structures. Many subscribers quit rather than live with these constraints, especially as alternatives appeared in the form of rival providers. The Prodigy Communities were starved of resources and became insignificant against the vast background of the World Wide Web. This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ...


While the strategic partnership with SBC provided a significant infusion of cash and customers, the intended migration of SBC Internet Services customers to Prodigy took longer than expected.


Current status

In the United States

By 1994, Prodigy became a pioneer in selling "dial-up" connections to the Web, the graphical interface for the Internet, and sold hosting services for Web publishers. 1994 (MCMXCIV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated as the International Year of the Family and the International Year of the Sport and the Olympic Ideal by United Nations. ...


In 1999 the company, now led by a cadre of ex-MCI executives with the goal of turning the brand around, became Prodigy Internet, marketing a full range of services, applications and content, including dial-up and DSL for consumers and small businesses, instant messaging, e-mail, and communities. Year 1999 (MCMXCIX) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display full 1999 Gregorian calendar). ...


In 2000, with subscriber growth exploding and brand attributes at an all time high, Prodigy explored a number of partnership deals including what would have been an unprecdented three-way merger between Earthlink, Mindspring, and the company. Ultimately, SBC bought a 43% interest in the company, and Prodigy became the exclusive provider to SBC's 77 million high-speed Internet customers. More than a year later after the launch of Prodigy Broadband (conceived and led by Chris Spanos), SBC bought controlling interest for $465 million when Prodigy was the fourth-largest Internet service provider behind America Online, Microsoft's MSN, and EarthLink. Prodigy in 2000 was reported to have 3.1 million subscribers of its own, of which 1.3 million were DSL customers. 2000 (MM) was a leap year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


AT&T no longer actively markets Prodigy services. However, a fair number of customers still use the Prodigy services that were available at the time of the acquisition. AT&T Inc. ...


Attempts by SBC to sell the Prodigy brand became public knowledge on December 9, 2005. [1] The brand hasn't been sold yet. December 9 is the 343rd day of the year (344th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


In late 2006, SBC purchased AT&T and re-branded itself as AT&T. As of early 2007, there remained within AT&T's Internet operations a small group of former Prodigy employees located in AT&T's Austin, Texas and White Plains, NY facilities. What had started 27 years earlier as an AT&T online experiment had come full circle. For the Manfred Mann album, see 2006 (album). ... AT&T Inc. ... AT&T Inc. ... 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era. ... Nickname: Location in the state of Texas Coordinates: , Country United States State Texas Counties Travis County, Williamson County Government  - Mayor Will Wynn Area  - City  296. ... White Plains is the name of some places in the United States of America: White Plains, Georgia White Plains, Kentucky White Plains, Maryland White Plains, New York White Plains, North Carolina White Plains, New York was the site of the American Revolutionary War Battle of White Plains. ...


In Mexico

In Mexico, Prodigy Internet is the main ISP with an estimate of 92% of the market share. It is also the leader in WiFi (hotspots) and broadband (DSL) access. The broadband service is called Prodigy Infinitum and is available in speeds of 1024 kbit/s, 2048 kbit/s, and 4096 kbit/s. The installation and DSL modem are both free, if the service is purchased for at least two years. Prodigy Internet in Mexico is part of Telmex (Teléfonos de México) and its sister company Telnor (Teléfonos del Noroeste). Wi-Fi (or Wi-fi, WiFi, Wifi, wifi), short for Wireless Fidelity, is a set of standards for wireless local area networks (WLAN) currently based on the IEEE 802. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Telnor, or Telefonos del Noroeste (Telephones of the Northwest) is a company providing telephone and internet services, operating in the Mexican states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Chihuahua, Sonora, and Sinaloa. ...


See also

AT&T Yahoo! logo AT&T Yahoo! is an information service from SBC Internet Services. ... Stratton Oakmont, Inc. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Prodigy (ISP) (499 words)
Prodigy was founded in 1984 as a joint venture between computer manufacturer IBM, US retailer Sears, and television network CBS.
Prodigy contended that the data was never transmitted, but rather their software was taking unused disk space and not zeroing it before using it, thereby mixing Prodigy's data with deleted user files.
Prodigy also was accused of heavy-handed censorship of its users, for a time banning the mention of other users in public forums.
Reference.com/Encyclopedia/Prodigy (ISP) (2816 words)
Prodigy Classic was discontinued in November, 1999 because it was decided that for financial reasons, its aging software should not be updated for Y2K.
In 1996, Prodigy was acquired by the former founders of Boston Technology and their new firm International Wireless, with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helú, a principal owner of Telmex, as a minority investor.
Prodigy contended that the data were never transmitted; in fact, their software was preallocating disk space but not zeroing it before use -- a conscious choice intended to reduce startup time on slow home computers.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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