Altered States Magazine - June 2002

  • Armada Wave 1 Reviews

  • In the Beginning:
    The History of Online TransFandom

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    By Philip N. Zeman

    The Rise and Fall of CMTF

    So, there we were, two people who liked the Transformers. We had a few people come from CCC, but we posted invitations to CMTF in other parts of the Arts BB and, in fact, other BBs across all of Prodigy. Soon we had more and more people coming to discuss from many different areas of both Prodigy and the nation. We talked about anything Transformers -- what our favorite toys were, the cartoon, the new comic rumors, the old comic. After a while, we had enough people posting frequently that it felt comfortable and natural to start a few off-topic threads.

    There were the occasional bad times in CMTF, but every family goes through them. Yes, I said family. We had a real sense of togetherness, so much so that after a while, we didnít think of ourselves as only a club. We were a family. Eventually, both Josh and I dropped "Co-Founder of CMTF" from each of our sign-offs, and the club did just fine without any one person or group in charge.

    CMTF went strong for a couple of years. The Generation 2 toys, comics, and cartoon provided ample fodder for new discussion, although more so the toys and comics rather than the cartoon which was a rehash of the original series. When the comic ended, the general discussion, the fanfic, and the crazy off-topic threads kept the club alive, thankfully.

    CMTF was thriving. Prodigy, however, was not. The service originally charged a monthly fee for unlimited hours, but it wasnít making money that way. So, Prodigy changed to a structure where you paid for X amount of hours a week (or month) and if you wanted unlimited hours, you paid more for that. When these plans were announced, many people realized their time on Prodigy was coming to an end. They couldnít afford to pay the amount of money it would take to keep the same number of hours they used, so they cancelled the service.

    The writing was on the wall. Prodigy had set it up that account holders wouldnít be charged the new prices until their current plan expired, which meant there were many people who still had unlimited accounts for a while. Some people decided to pay the new pricing plans and renewed their Prodigy accounts. But the number of visible members of CMTF started getting smaller and smaller. CMTF continued to exist in some fashion for a while, but it was inevitable. By the mid 1990ís, most people had more cost-effective online services, such as AOL, or they had their own account with an Internet Service Provider, and chose not to use Prodigy. The final days before my own unlimited account expired were filled with me saying my goodbyes to those who were still around. I knew Prodigy had some connections to the Internet, so I told them how to find me and that I hoped weíd meet again on the net, somewhere.

    Thankfully, I was right. The Internet and BotCon have brought many of us back together. HooksX is a CMTFer, and several people at Nightwindís Padded Cell (most notably the fair Nightwind herself and ĎLeta) have CMTF roots.

    There are a few others around, though, that I havenít seen around in quite some time. Josh Ali E-mailed me once, many years ago, saying he had found me after quite an absence away from Prodigy, but communication to him never got returned. Beyond that, there are still dozens of other CMTFers who joined and left during various times. I hope that all of them are doing well, and I hope they drop me a line.

    So, the Internet killed my first adventure into online Transfandom. But when I left Prodigy, I thought that this Internet thing could possibly be a place to try to set up shop again.

    Little did I know.

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      Copyright © 2002 Altered States Magazine
    A SkyJammer Enterprises Publication