Prodigy for DOS Sign-In
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The "Prodigy Classic" Hacker Scene

Written By: Supreme Leader
Date Published: August 25, 2019
Date Updated: September 2, 2019

I remember when I first got this service. It initially wasn't that hot. BBSes (Bulletin Board Systems) still were technically better by comparison of content or interactivity but the DOS version had a nice aesthetic with it's screens, they were very creative and fun to look at, enough to _want_ to navigate around what they had then fuck off and Crime Ring BBS ANSI Art go back to your more interesting BBSes with their very dark, at times evil ANSI art themed interfaces and lightyears ahead in quality content, even if some outdated. It's like reading an old Nintendo Power, still fun. After all I was young and inspired by text files written by the likes older hackers of the early-mid 80's. I didn't stick around Prodigy for DOS very long for the very reason I mentioned is that BBSes were better, BBSes represented the underground where I was dialing in. You can view an interesting demo of Prodigy for DOS over at Archive.Org. It runs on their native DOSBox so you can run it there or just download the demo yourself and run it on DOSBox, just click the ZIP download on the right of the page.

It took awhile for my interest to return to this service and that's when a Microsoft Windows version came out with chat rooms and websites. I even dual-booted my Linux machine so I could continue to participate in this ecosystem that was like an alternative reality of hackers. It must've been coming into the mid-90s by the time I'd return.

Prodigy 1.2 for Windows So just to be clear, or obvious, the retrocomputing section IS going to cover online services, software, etc.. BUT we're per usual of NostalgiaFreaks.Com style it's from my perspective. No history, no Wikipedia, minimal technical bs as possible unless it has to do with my experience or relevant article structure I felt required. I'm going to attempt to bring you back with me... to the Prodigy "hacker scene", complete with lingo, cultural attitude, Up aNd DoWn words and use of the letter "Z". When Prodigy came out for Windows (pictured is one of my actual disks) there was a scene bubbling up dealing in "Hacking" (not REALLY hacking, but "HaCKiNG") and it was kind of an offshoot of what you'd find on AOHell 95 AOL and it's scene with "Progz" like AOHell which was basically as best a kid in this scene could do.. at the time. They'd flood chatrooms and private messages with scrolling W's going so fast some computers couldn't handle it and end up getting knocked offline. I was already a programmer at the time but I'd done most of my work in *NIX related environments and it offered an opportunity to do something new in this community I'd bumped into as I had zero experience in programming in Windows or any sort of graphical GUI.

MeRcY v1 Beta 2 Almost nothing about Prodigy was specifically charming but it was the people that kept me coming back, the characters, the other programmers wanting to push past doing more than just using their time to develop room scrollers and into learning the Windows API functions and such. Every new level people would reach seemed to elevate the others who also programmed in these "hacker chats". I actually remember the fella who made MeRcY (JuiCeLeSS). It was one of the earlier "PRoG" releases. I remember some of the initial crew that was there before I'd come from the scene of BBSes such as Dark Mana, iZ, Skyline, VeXaTiOn, Birdhouse, Fear Factory, SaLaMaNdO, iNSaNe, FrOgUrTiMe, uNDINe and DeAtH (my first P* friend actually) from early rooms like "}{ackers }{otel" and cool fellas that came through the way when I was there like Warped Alien, Onkyo, LeMoN, AgntOrng, CaMeL, RiSE, Hydra, Erik, NiHiLiTy, moon, Neon.. consider this my "greetz/elite people" section and I'm forgetting a LOT of people.. I'm sorry. I'm also not gonna reveal who I was! So don't ask. Just know, you know I know you. MuhWahHahahHahahh.. old skewl bitch.

ASCII Group w/ VeXaTiOn & NetWarez A lot of people had Up aNd DoWn names, it was a thing of the time. We all that this "cultural language" and say things like "w00t", K-RaD, whirred/w0rd/werd, etc, also create "hacker groups", call people lamerz. I found it endlessly hilarious. We even had to deal with a group called "HeHeZ" which were mostly annoying and abused up and down letters like hell. I have no idea what interest they had in us. I was there for the "hackers" cuz I enjoyed programming and I enjoyed the camaraderie. We all had our own "webpages", Prodigy had "webpages" where you could put down some basic HTML and usually we'd use these things to deliver "PRoGz", display "GreeTz" and "LaMeRz" lists so people KNOW who is who and that's super important. You gotta know what crew to run with and we weren't shy to fry some LaMeRz. We all took it for granted, for sure. Like any scene you never appreciate what you had until it's gone. It was perfect for the age range that was circulating around there and developed people into legit programmers with legit careers and I have no doubt this scene inspired people to keep pushing forward and past the things they programmed as a mere teen. We had to be all raised in some under-supervised environment cuz we were there a lot and sharing each other's programming progress with seemingly no governor over our shoulders. For me, I just wanted to learn more and acquire more friends who did also, I wanted to encourage my "P*" (short for Prodigy) friends to do the same but for the most part, that was not to be.

At some point the "P* Software" was ripped to shreds, somebody who was staff at Prodigy, who was a visitor of the hacker rooms, forget who, provided a stage.dat file that enabled staff permissions to normal software FROM the staff software and basically Prodigy was on it's last legs anyways. I was gone when this happened but I heard the story and I had to give one of those claps like Charles S. Dutton in Rudy. Good for them. Fuck Prodigy Corporate. Their terrible practice was seemingly matched by their terrible engineering. Whomever operated CHATHost accounts was a dick. We went through accounts as if they were on fire and had to constantly provide our friends "subaccounts" to the main accounts we'd ultimately have to keep acquiring. The final middle finger was a glorious thing to hear and the next iteration, Prodigy Internet.. was garbage.

Even talking about this is such weird memories because I'm so distant from this "scene" and ultimately the "post-scene" I was in which lasted awhile but eventually proliferated into DDoS botnets and changed into something more volatile from where I sat and was less about knowledge and turned into more of a repetitive cheap hit. Back in my day (hurr back in my day) everybody had something to prove it seemed like, even if we were friends and we gave eachother a lot of shit, a lot of ribbing and language people would fall off their chair hearing in 2019, it was a good time. I wish I still had the all the "progz", so I could screencap some of them (UPDATE: I *have* found some, downloads below!). They are a truly silly visual but a charming one from a very youthful, enthusiastic crowd.

A-Dial by VeXaTiOn I found a few screenshots but that's the tip of the iceberg that was from the programming offerings this place had. Almost all the links have died to obtain them. VeX and HoTMeaL's wardialer is on textfiles.com and linked on a lot of sites but also dead links, but the PRoD HaCKeR stuff was hilarious. It all had that "teenage touch" that no normal frontend or backend developer would travel. Press a button, scroll a middle finger. Room busters that'd endlessly retry a room that was full (think the limit was 23...22?). Some "ProgZ" had the ugliest colour schemes, I dunno what they were thinking sometimes.

Prodigy Chat I've seen other Prodigy users memories talking about the "romance chats" and public rooms and how great they were but these people had NO IDEA that under their nose was a very fun community of young people who were programmers, hackers and honestly some of the best folks out there. It was an era that was coming to the end of BBSes, and these guys (and girls) managed to fill the gap and I made a lot of great friends. When Prodigy shutdown, and it's scene died I was already long gone and took the bulk load of my friends to IRC where the hacking scene took a more realistic turn of it's tides for the group from Prodigy.. but that's.. another story... within that with myself forked off into two directions. Click the link below for some screenshots from "pages.prodigy.com", unfortunately all the images are gone but the real juice is in the cultural lingo of the time. If you are one of the "HaCKeRz" from these rooms feel free to hit me up at staff@nostalgiafreaks.com. Adios LaMeRZ! That includes iNFiNiTi, NyGuY 18 and Moe Taylor!

PRoDiGY HaCKiNG UTiLiTieZ
(Works w/ DOSBox or VirtualBox + Win 3.11)

PRoDHell v1.1 by InSaNe
Pw: blunt, install to C:\PRODHELLL
MeRcY v1 Beta 2 by JuiCeLeSS
Install to C:\MERCY
WoW! Hack
There is no info on this, version, nothing. Compuserve "PRoG", maybe?
WoW! Toolz
Same goes for this WoW! utility, there is absolutely no credits in the zip file or the program.
VBRUN300.DLL
You need this in c:\windows\system\ (Required for MeRcy & PRoDHeLL)
VBRUN400 Setup Files
Run SETUP.EXE within Windows 3.11 (Required for PRoDSMaCK)

DOS 6.22 + Windows 3.11 (WFW) + Internet Images

Some initial notes, graphical web browsing, SSH.. out of the question. Most servers have upgraded past what WFW has for tools and Win32s can't solve some things in the way of that nor was the idea of this being included in many programs that fit into this category. You can however, have fun with some of the apps, IRC works (I included mIRC). Prodigy "Hacker Programs" (above) included in image, of course they are more for a visual history.

DOSBox-X DOS 6.22/WFW Image
This has some "setup", but not nearly as twisted and windy as actually looking up how to do these things because I saw a lot of conflicting info. You need DOSBox-X to load a DOS image which was easily done, but also DOSBox-X supports the NE2000 driver we need. You need to edit your dosbox-0.xx.xx.conf (Replace xx with version). It will already be in your DOSBox configuration directory (Linux: ~/.dosbox/). You only need to edit a few things and a fair understanding of DOSBox is good to have. I mostly added this due to people having so much of a challenge getting the Internet working with DOSBox-X. You will get great game support using DOSBox. Change the following:
[ne2000] ne2000 = true realnic = list # Read your output and select proper card, usually 1 or 2, it might default correctly regardless. [autoexec] mount c: /path/to/this/image/file/ c: imgmount 2 .\wfw-NF-v0.1.img -size 512,63,16,507 -fs none boot -l c In Linux, compile from SVN and follow directions. "build-debug-no-avcodec" (rather than "build" per instructions) worked best as even after I upgraded ffmpeg it whined. run sudo dosbox-x. Untested in Windows, but likely just works. I'll update the article if I forgot anything, email me if so.
VirtualBox DOS 6.22/WFW Image
This setup is easier. Just install a DOS container with DOS as the OS and use this image as your "hard drive" (IDE Primary Master). I used PCNet II network card.

Click Here To See Screenshots From "pages.prodigy.com" and PRoGz Hacker Scene

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