Hooked Up to the Max

Will America Online, Prodigy and CompuServe lose their clout when the Internet comes to town?

For the big three online services -- CompuServe, Prodigy and America Online -- this was the year it all fell into place. The computers were cheap. The modems were fast. The infohighway buzzwords were on everybody's lips. "It's like Mars and Jupiter coming into alignment," says Maurice Cox, president of CompuServe, the largest (2.25 million subscribers) of the field. Upstart America Online grew at such a rapid clip -- an extraordinary 200% in the past 12 months -- that subscribers complained of busy signals and its stock was whipsawed by takeover rumors (the most recent: that cable-TV mogul John Malone wants...

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