Altered States Magazine - June 2002

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    The History of Online TransFandom

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    A SkyJammer Enterprises Publication

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    By Philip N. Zeman

    Where It All Began....

    We begin in 1992, on the Bulletin-Board Service called "Prodigy", what is now referred to as (the defunct) Prodigy Classic.

    Prodigy and CompuServe were the two main national BBSes out there in this day; America Online would one day buy one of them and surpass the other. Prodigy was not the Internet at that time. It was its own culture, with its own bulletin boards, its own sections, its own environment.

    Prodigy, which opened its electronic doors nationwide in 1990, was constantly growing, and there were several places that the science-fiction fans, such as comic-book readers, tended to hang out. The Arts BB was one of those places, and many comic clubs were formed there.

    Now, these clubs werenít all that sophisticated. All that a club tended to be was a group of postings on a BB that started with the same abbreviation, such as "CCC:" for the Comics Collector Club. People would vote for officers of the club. These officers didnít have powers such as banning or moderating posts, but they would read every post that was made within the club (meaning it started with the abbreviation of the club), and theyíd try to help out new members, start discussions, and alert Prodigy staff members if there was a true problem.

    It was a different culture than the Internet today; most often than not, there were few fights, virtually no SPAM, and the content-to-noise ratio was extremely high. Perhaps the fact that it was a service you had to pay for and not everyone had a computer was the reason behind this, but thatís not my place to speculate.

    Back in the fall 1992, I had been a member of CCC for a long time and had, in fact, been made a Vice-President of the club. One day, the subject of Transformers was brought up. Some people had heard rumors of a new Transformers comic, and the post in CCC started a thread of many people reminiscing fondly about the toy line. One CCC member posed a question: "Why donít we start our own Transformers club?" I thought that was a great idea, and I felt I had enough officer experience to start it myself.

    So I did. I posted a message with the abbreviation "TFTA", for "TransFormers TransActions." Hey, I thought it was catchy at the time.

    I didnít know, though, that someone else had also liked the idea of a TF club enough to create one. Josh Ali III decided to start posting under the subject heading "CMTF." Rather than have two clubs and split the enthusiastic but admittedly small fan base, we joined forces. TFTA closed without anyone joining, and Josh and I became Co-Founders of CMTF in November of 1992.

    For those of you who donít know what the acronym CMTF meant, well, hereís some insight into a not-so-big-secret: CMTF stood for "CoMic TransFormers". It wasnít that TFs were inherently funny (although looking back at some of the G1 episodes may prove otherwise). Rather, Josh had an affinity for the comic book over the cartoon.

    1 | 2 | 3: The Rise and Fall of CMTF | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

      Copyright © 2002 Altered States Magazine
    A SkyJammer Enterprises Publication