naplps

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Where Online Services Go When They Die: Rebuilding Prodigy, one screen at a time. A brilliant, small effort to reconstruct and revisit a place that many of us knew—a place where, as a first-time user, watching the graphics load up felt as though you’d dialed the future with your modem.

As we invest more of our lives into the electronic realm, corporate decisions to shut down online services without recourse are beginning to resemble digital acts of Nero burning Rome—cultural history and entire communities are trashed in the process.

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Prodigy (online service), pictures by Benj Edwards.

The service was presented using a graphical user interface. The Data Object Architecture wrapped vector and incremental point graphics, encoded as per the North American Presentation Level Protocol Syntax NAPLPS, along with interpretative programs written in the proprietary languages TBOL (Trintex Basic Object Language) and PAL (Prodigy Application Language). NAPLPS was authored in 1979 by Jerry Soloway and Bill Frezza from Bell Laboratory and Bob Bedard from CBS Laboratory.