My first exposure to the online world came in 1993 when my parents gave me a 14.4Kbps modem. In the days before modern Internet access there were online services such as Prodigy, the original iteration of America Online, CompuServe, GEnie, and other such things. The new modem came with a Prodigy installation disk, for before long my new 486 computer running the state of the art Windows 3.1 was beeping and humming over the phone line to the world of Prodigy. TV listings! Movie reviews! David Letterman's Top Ten Lists! The Prodigy world was my oyster, although that oyster was charged on a minute-by-minute rate, so it was a small oyster, but an oyster none the less.
The biggest draw in terms of gaming on Prodigy was a little maze game called MadMaze, a point-and-click adventure game that takes place, yes, in a maze. VintageComputing.com has taken a brief look back at the old game and has information on a modern World Wide Web revival version of the adventure.
During the game you’ll stumble across “Places of Power,” which are graphically-rich events that drive the game’s plot forward. You’re presented with a number of choices and have to pick the right ones to proceed. If you fail, you die and have to start over from the beginning! And believe me, it’s a bummer.
To all you younger readers out there who first experienced the Internet in 1999 or later, let me just say this: MadMaze may have been simple, but we liked it, consarnit, and after we walked uphill to school both ways we were glad to get a little time with MadMaze even though every minute of time on the service cost money. When World Wide Web access came to Prodigy several years later the old service was retooled and MadMaze died a quiet death. A few years after that Prodigy itself died, as it was decided that it would be cheaper to just shut down the aging service instead of making it Y2K compliant.
Incidentally, the classic Prodigy service spawned a modern ISP, Prodigy Internet, that was later bought out by SBC Communications who teamed with Yahoo!, who eventually entered into a similar partnership with SBC's new owner, AT&T. My current ISP has grown and evolved all the way from that simple Prodigy service. Circle of life, that.