December 25th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Christmas, Prodigy, online service, modem, IBM PS/2, memories, IBM, Zoom, BBS, MadMaze
An angle-corrected close-up view of Prodigy's front page on Christmas 1992.
Twenty years ago today, I awoke with anticipation and ran downstairs. It was Christmas morning, and I could hardly wait to open my presents.
One of those presents turned out to be a connection kit to Prodigy online service, which I had been begging my father to buy for most of the year. 1992 was the year I jumped head-first into computer telecommunications by calling local BBSes. I became fascinated with modems and wanted to explore their every possible application.
That Christmas morning, my dad was on hand to document my first experiences with Prodigy using the family Sony Camcorder. I have captured various stills from that video, and I am posting them here to share a small slice of the Prodigy experience in 1992.
Unfortunately, my computer at the time, the IBM PS/2 Model 25 (which my dad purchased new circa 1987 and later became a hand-me-down to me), came equipped with a monochrome monitor. So the glory of Prodigy Christmas 1992 in color is sadly now lost to history (well, unless someone else out there can find some color screenshots of Prodigy on Christmas 1992).
[ Continue reading Prodigy 20 Years Ago Today » ]
December 8th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: BBS, online games, online, door games, modem, Wikipedia, Josh Renaud
As we speak, certain vigilante Wikipedia users are hard at work erasing whatever scraps of little-known BBS door game history that resides in Wikipedia's databases. The first casualty in this war was the entry for Space Empire Elite, which was deleted early this morning.
(For those of you unfamiliar with BBS door games, here's a brief definition: BBS door games are computer games, usually text-only, that were traditionally played over modems and accessed through dial-up BBSes. They are called "door games" because users pass through a figurative "doorway" from the BBS software into another program (the game program) to play them. One of the most notable examples is TradeWars 2002.)
The problem, it seems, is that the games aren't "notable" enough and lack the sources for a Wikipedia article.
[ Continue reading Wikipedia is Deleting BBS Game History » ]
November 26th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: BBS, The Cave BBS, Red Wolf, modem, virus, WWIV, VBBS, Procomm Plus, anniversaries, 1992
A vintage printout of my first BBS log.
Twenty years ago yesterday, I set up a BBS for the first time. The Cave BBS. Admittedly, it was nothing more than a bare-bones system run through
Procomm Plus' Minihost module Minihost, but it was a start. Within a few weeks (with a brief detour running VBBS for a few days), I had a full-fledged WWIV BBS setup running on a Tandy 1800 HD laptop with a 2400 BPS modem.
Brief aside — I can't find a copy of that ProComm Plus MiniHost for MS-DOS software anywhere — does anyone have it? I have the terminal emulator part, but not the MiniHost.] [ Update 11/27/2012 - Thanks to Jim Carpenter (see comments) for helping me find it! ]
[ Continue reading [ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Cave BBS Turns 20 » ]
November 19th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Radio Shack, TRS-80, modem, DC-2212, 1200 baud, BYTE, 1985
FINALLY, I mean, COME ON.
You too could be the proud owner of this Radio Shack TRS-80 DC-2212 1200 baud modem for the low, low price of $399.95 (about $859.81 in 2012 dollars).
…If you traveled back in time with the proper currency, that is. But I wouldn't recommend it.
I recently bought a cable modem that is the equivalent of a 150,000,000 baud modem. It cost $70 in 2012 dollars. Not bad for progress.
[ From BYTE, September 1985, rear cover ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What speed was you first modem?
August 4th, 2006 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Prodigy, MadMaze, MadMaze-II, Internet, Web, Internet Explorer, modem, online games, online service, Eric Goldberg, Greg Costikyan, Russell Brown
When I was but a wee lad, I begged my father to sign me up for Prodigy. I loved BBSes and wanted to try Prodigy so badly. On Christmas 1992, I finally got my wish: an orange cardboard box emblazoned with a blue star appeared under the Christmas tree. One hour (and one father's credit card charge) later, I was online. Overall, I was mostly underwhelmed with the service and my subscription didn't last long, but there was one thing I really liked about it: the games.
Many of you probably know of Prodigy, a pre-"popular Internet" era commercial dial-up online service that utilized copious amounts of NAPLPS graphics in its client interface. And one of the best applications of this rarely used, bandwidth- friendly graphics protocol was Eric Goldberg and Greg Costikyan's very popular Prodigy adventure game, MadMaze.
[ Continue reading Prodigy Lives! Play MadMaze On the Web » ]