Prodigy to shut down over Year 2000 problem : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Just found this on the wire:

Here is the link:

Prodigy to shut down online service over Year 2000 problem

WASHINGTON (AP) - Citing the Year 2000 computer problem, Prodigy Communications Corp. is telling its 208,000 subscribers it will shut down its pioneer ``Prodigy Classic'' online service.

Prodigy notified customers nationwide by e-mail late Friday it could not avoid the effects of the so-called ``Y2K'' problem and by October must shut down one of the most well-established neighborhoods in cyberspace.

The company said the Year 2000 problem was not expected to affect the 433,000 subscribers of its newer ``Prodigy Internet'' service, launched in late 1996, and it encouraged its Classic subscribers to enroll there.

Prodigy's chief executive officer, Samer Salameh, sent e-mail to subscribers explaining that the company's 9-year-old Classic service was ``built using proprietary technologies that predate current Internet standards'' and the company's engineers were ``unable to make them Y2K compliant.''

``I know that this announcement will be a disappointment to many of you,'' Salameh wrote.

Prodigy also posted the announcement on its Web site.

Subscribers used Prodigy's own electronic bulletin boards to express skepticism that the Year 2000 problem was to blame for the service's demise. Some openly suggested that the company manufactured the explanation to encourage them to migrate to its newer Internet service.

Many computers originally programmed to recognize only the last two digits of a year will not work properly beginning Jan. 1, 2000, when machines will assume it is 1900. Some computers can be reprogrammed, but many devices have embedded microchips that must be physically replaced.

Prodigy, based in White Plains, N.Y., did not explain in e-mail or on its Web site exactly how the Year 2000 problem manifested itself.

Prodigy's Classic service was launched nationally in 1990, years before the booming popularity of the Internet and its World Wide Web. Rival services, such as America Online and CompuServe, dwarfed its subscriber base as they gradually concentrated on offering unadulterated access to the Internet.

Not Prodigy, which still requires Classic subscribers to use its awkward, proprietary e-mail software and Internet browser to venture beyond the confines of its own online content.

But the service's strength was always its relatively civil discussion groups, where people gathered to talk about shared interests without the off-topic interruptions and insults so common among the Internet's Usenet discussion areas.

Unlike the Internet, Prodigy uses censors who monitor its bulletin boards to ensure messages are appropriate and do not contain obscenities.

Prodigy boasted 1.13 million Classic subscribers in 1995, but that number has declined sharply in recent years as users fled to Internet service providers that offered faster, more reliable access to the Web.

For example, America Online, the world's largest Internet provider, has more than 15 million subscribers. Prodigy Internet has grown from 7,000 subscribers in 1996 to 433,000 last year.

Prodigy incurred net losses of $114.1 million in 1996 and $129.3 million in 1997, and it lost $47.6 million during the nine months that ended in September.

Copyright 1999 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

-- Mike (, January 23, 1999



This is a newsworthy story for old Prodigy Classic subscribers, but not at all a big story as it relates to Y2K. Prodigy has been looking for an excuse to phase out its old Prodigy Classic service ever since it debuted its Prodigy Internet service in December 1996. (I know for definite, am a member of both...)

There were rumors as far back as a year and a half ago that Prodigy was looking to phase out the old Prodigy Classic...and with good reason. The technology it uses is antiquated, and, (as the e-mail I got today says), predates current internet standards. They just figured it would cost more to update the old dinosaur that it would just to kill big deal. A business decision, nothing more. Only reason I've kept the old Prodigy Classic is that they give it to those who upgraded to Prodigy Internet for free...again, no big deal.

-- Old P* Guy (, January 23, 1999.

The fact is a system, with a hell of a lot of current subscribers, is going to go tits-up, the plug is going to be pulled because it cannot be brought up to y2k date compliancy standards. Yes or no?.

I bet a goodly proportion of those subscribers will take the opportunity to bail to a better provider - don't you?

So, another system kicks the bucket because of y2k - hence the article.

This is just one of many. There will be more. Many more.

This is the economic context, the y2k fallout increasing in pace (GM, Chevron, anyone???)


Two digits. One mechanism. The smallest mistake.

-- Andy (, January 23, 1999.

Andy --- agree. Most likely, they decided that it wasn't worth it from a "business" perspective to make it compliant. Exactly. And this isn't just convenient, because they will indeed lose customers, as you say.

In Prodigy's case and, yes, many others (remember: Prodigy is saying it believes it can go on with new system post Y2K), they can, or they think they can, cross the date barrier.

But this and other germane news (Medicare, Chevron ..) is the beginning leaks in the dam. I'm also seeing here a tug of war between, "say nothing" and "get the bad news out now so we don't lose all our customers later." Prodigy could have said this in May-June. Interesting.

-- BigDog (, January 23, 1999.

Old P* never was worth keeping. That was my first bbs over 8 years ago (it wasn't tied to the internet then) and the interface and service was awful. But an old classic being discontinued is always sad.

-- Chris (, January 23, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ