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8 Old Prodigy Ads Explain Why You Need the Internet

Prodigy: It's all About the Encyclopedia

"Prodigy even has a 21-volume electronic encyclopedia that's updated quarterly." What could possibly surpass that?

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Prodigy: Money and Sports

It's got stocks stuff, it's got sports stuff, and did we mention that encyclopedia? We really, really think that's a selling point.

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Prodigy: Banking, Shopping, Games, and Dad Stuff

"It can follow just your stocks, huh?" Jeepers. "And here's England!"

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Prodigy: Fly Fishing

Finally, an online service for fly fishing. (No, really.)

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Prodigy: Beating Up On Your Banjo

Whoa. There's a lot going on on that bus.

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Prodigy: Your Local Diner

Apparently this one came from a Prodigy CD-ROM circa 1996. Note the 1996-era frame rate and crappy audio. The list of features at the end (including "downloadable files") is riding the sad-or-funny line.

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Prodigy: Now for Parents

Having a baby? Apparently you need to do more shopping online.

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Live on Prodigy

Gary Brown is live on chat. "If you're not a member, you should be." Keep an eye on the color scheme when they show the screen -- purple was very hip in those days.

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History
The Queen of Code: Remembering Grace Hopper
By Lynn Gilbert, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Grace Hopper was a computing pioneer. She coined the term "computer bug" after finding a moth stuck inside Harvard's Mark II computer in 1947 (which in turn led to the term "debug," meaning solving problems in computer code). She did the foundational work that led to the COBOL programming language, used in mission-critical computing systems for decades (including today). She worked in World War II using very early computers to help end the war. When she retired from the U.S. Navy at age 79, she was the oldest active-duty commissioned officer in the service. Hopper, who was born on this day in 1906, is a hero of computing and a brilliant role model, but not many people know her story.

In this short documentary from FiveThirtyEight, directed by Gillian Jacobs, we learned about Grace Hopper from several biographers, archival photographs, and footage of her speaking in her later years. If you've never heard of Grace Hopper, or you're even vaguely interested in the history of computing or women in computing, this is a must-watch:

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holidays
The Plugin That Keeps the Internet From Spoiling Santa Claus
iStock
iStock

During simpler times, the biggest threat to a child's belief in Santa was usually older siblings or big-mouthed classmates. Today, kids have access to an entire world wide web, full of potentially Santa-spoiling content. Luckily, there's a plugin that helps parents maintain their kids’ innocence through the holidays.

Created by the virtual private network provider Hide My Ass (HMA), the free software analyzes web activity for any information that might threaten to “bring a child’s belief in Santa crashing down.” In place of the problematic content, the plugin brings up an image of the jolly man himself. Typing the phrase “Santa is not real” into Google, for example, will instead take you to a web page showing nothing but a soft-focused St. Nick pointing into the camera and staring at you with judgmental eyes. The plugin is also designed to work for social media communications, internet ads, and articles like this one.


Hide My Ass

According to a survey of 2036 parents by HMA, one in eight children in the U.S. have their belief in Santa ruined online. Whether it's because of the internet or other related factors, the age that children stop believing in Santa is lower than ever.

The average age that current parents lost their faith in Santa Claus was 8.7 years old, and for today’s kids it’s 7.25 years. Concerned parents can download the plugin for Chrome here, though it may not be enough to hide every type of Santa spoiler: Of the parents who blamed the internet, 26 percent of them reported kids snooping over their shoulder as they shopped for gifts online.

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