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Where Were You When PLATO Was Born?

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the ask-socrates dept.

Social Networks 162

PLATO, cradle of so many firsts, was born 50 years ago. Next week the Computer History Museum is hosting a two-day conference to celebrate the anniversary. Microsoft's Ray Ozzie, who worked on PLATO as an undergraduate, will be one of the keynote speakers. Co-producer Brian Dear has put together a list of today's technology notables and what they were doing in 1973, the year that social computing suddenly blossomed on PLATO.

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WTF? I was in Sudan, but who cares? (3, Informative)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343640)

PLATO rocked, but to be honest it didn't have anything to do with me.

Think of a better headline.

Re:WTF? I was in Sudan, but who cares? (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343700)

OK, PLATO [wikipedia.org] was the most expensive and complicated teacher ever built by mankind. If PLATO was so smart, shouldn't it have put together this list of "who was where when" instead of some blog-monkey?

Re:WTF? I was in Sudan, but who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32344080)

no, it should have found the question to Life, the universe, and everything.

Re:WTF? I was in Sudan, but who cares? (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344206)

no, it should have found the question to Life, the universe, and everything.

You're thinking of 'Deep Thought', who was a deep thinker much like PLATO's namesake.

BTW, I think the answer was '42', but they never did say if it was base 10 or some another base ... and they never did figure out the question.

Re:WTF? I was in Sudan, but who cares? (1)

Garble Snarky (715674) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344560)

"What do you get if you multiply six by nine?"

Re:WTF? I was in Sudan, but who cares? (1)

lordharsha (1101875) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344642)

"What do you get if you multiply six by nine?"

54

Re:WTF? I was in Sudan, but who cares? (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344172)

I was where I always am. Wandering around aimlessly on Earth.

Re:WTF? I was in Sudan, but who cares? (0, Flamebait)

Gaian-Orlanthii (1032980) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344242)

Amazing - because so was I! In fact, apart from trying to understand why these human-being-things (of which I was supposed to be one of) were actually the most stupid fuckers I had ever seen outside of the zoo, I was looking forward to my ninth birthday party.

Re:WTF? I was in Sudan, but who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32344160)

> Think of a better headline.

And think about a better story -- too much M$ over here lately... (for my taste).

Digg? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32343650)

but no Slashdot? That list is totally lame.

nowhere (4, Informative)

meerling (1487879) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343652)

Sorry, but Plato was born and died a few thousand years before I was.

(Yeah, I know, wrong Plato, but with that headline, you knew someone was going to say it.)

I have the speech synthsizer on.... (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343696)

What ....is.... this.....play....doh....you .... speak....of?

And then they screwed him over... (0, Offtopic)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343808)

...and took away his planet and gave it some dwarfs.

Not to mention the humiliation of naming a cartoon dog after him.

Re:nowhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32343810)

Sorry, but Plato was born and died a few thousand years before I was.

Wow I haven't even died yet, but I was born a few months before the PLATO of which they speak.

Re:nowhere (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344352)

but I was born a few months before the PLATO of which they speak
 
Me too; did it scare you too when between the title and the summary it says 1973 was 50 years ago?

Not that Plato (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32344466)

This one [chron.com] . He was born 1950, or thereabouts.

So, What Is PLATO? (3, Informative)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343656)

The links don't say what PLATO is, except "the greatest untold story in the history of computing". So, what the heck is it?

Re:So, What Is PLATO? (2, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343678)

PLATO was the first ever computer based instruction course. Which I definitely wouldn't expect most people to know. The only reason why I know is that the community college my mother works at they use it.

Re:So, What Is PLATO? (2, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344028)

It was also one of the earliest persistent online communities [wikipedia.org] (before the WELL, Usenet, and BBS eras).

Re:So, What Is PLATO? (2, Interesting)

Ixitar (153040) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344654)

I worked on the PLATO system at Control Data Corporation while interning in college. It was a pleasure working on it, but it was a system before its time. When the PC came out, the PLATO system could not adapt. Its screen resolution was 512x512 and the displays of the existing code could not adapt very well. They tried another approach using the CPM operating system as its base for a microcomputer based solution.

Re:So, What Is PLATO? (2, Insightful)

flydpnkrtn (114575) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343690)

Dude make friends with Wikipedia and Google... you guys should hang out

Re:So, What Is PLATO? (2, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343712)

Dude make friends with Wikipedia and Google... you guys should hang out

I don't RTFA, so why on earth would I Wiki or Google it? Isn't that what the other slash-monkies are for? Eventually someone will post something informative or of value. ;-)

Re:So, What Is PLATO? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343720)

But Google will keep notes on everything you say and Wikipedia will correct you for using words that are "not notable"

Re:So, What Is PLATO? (5, Insightful)

vanyel (28049) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343774)

While you can find out what it is without too much trouble, that doesn't detract from the fact that the summary would be vastly improved if it had included that information in the first place.

Re:So, What Is PLATO? (2, Insightful)

dwarfsoft (461760) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343816)

I love Wikipedia and Google, but it is a Platonic love...

Re:So, What Is PLATO? (2, Informative)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343854)

The availability of Google and Wikipedia doesn't excuse clumsy article summaries. If most of your audience doesn't know what X device is, taking a sentence to explain it makes it a much better article summary. I would say it is pretty fundamental to good writing. I would grant that Slashdot editors don't know much about good writing, but that's not a good excuse.

Maybe PLATO was very important, but despite having actually read about computer technology history in the past, I don't remember ever having heard of it. That, and based on other comments to this story, I'd say that PLATO must have been pretty obscure.

Re:So, What Is PLATO? (5, Interesting)

hedronist (233240) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344012)

PLATO was where I learned to program. Where I learned how to write a couple of lines of TUTOR (back before they even had an FM to R) and then hit Shift-EDIT. That sent me through the "compilor" (their word, not mine) and straight into execution. As soon as I liked/didn't like what I saw, I hit Shift-EDIT again and I was back in the editor exactly where I had been.

This means that in 1973 I learned to work with an Edit-Compile-Execute-Edit cycle that was often measured in less than 10 seconds. It's a hell of a way to learn quickly.

You use IM? I was using Talkomatic in 1973. You use forums? Try Notes (and I don't mean Lotus), again in 1973. MMO Games? Dogfight (1973) or even Nova (1974) (I was the coauthor with Al McNeil). Touch panel? Been there, got the T-shirt (and I still have this bee stuck to my finger (that's a deep, deep PLATO old-timer's joke.))

Between PLATO in the early 70's, and Xerox in Palo Alto in the late 70's (where I was on the BravoX Project at ASD (think "Microsoft Word")), about 80%+ of the fundamental user interface and the foundations of networking (communications and social) were created. In some cases these functions not only haven't improved all that much, some of it is sliding back down hill.

That doesn't mean you need to kiss our ass or anything, but some people around here really need to understand that the world did not start when they were born. It makes me cringe to even hear me say it, but sometimes the arrogance of the young—many of whom cannot be bothered to read even the history of their own industry—really wears thin.

Re:So, What Is PLATO? (1)

Mr. Protocol (73424) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344260)

Hello, fatankles. Good to hear from you. :-)

I think I'm the one who taught you TUTOR.

Do you think Slashdot would improve if they hired The Red Sweater as an editor?

Re:So, What Is PLATO? (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344888)

The Red Sweater lived on my dorm floor. He was a fucking legend. One day someone took his sweater. He curled up in a fetal position on his bed in the corner of his room until someone got it back. That would have been in 1975-76.

PLATO (and TUTOR) rocked. I had the green, paper-covered TUTOR manual on my bookshelf up until about two years ago, when I threw out a bunch of stuff. Had the paper notes of Kuck's book on parallel computation, too. I actually drug around a couple of the boards from the G-20 they yanked out of the EE building, too, but that went before I left Illinois in 1981. People have no fucking clue...

Re:So, What Is PLATO? (3, Insightful)

flydpnkrtn (114575) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344284)

Cool posts and good stories like this are why I still read Slashot... thanks for the interesting writeup man

Re:So, What Is PLATO? (0, Flamebait)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344530)

That doesn't mean you need to kiss our ass or anything, but some people around here really need to understand that the world did not start when they were born.

We so understand, dude. The sheer horror of seeding a torrent over those mythical 300 baud channels... that, and Hitler. I sure am glad I wasn't born back then, it must have been hell to live in. ~

Re:So, What Is PLATO? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32344626)

That sounds so cool.

I'm a young man and even though I'm a little versed in old systems' history I wasn't aware of that one.

Nice story, man!

Re:So, What Is PLATO? (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344832)

notes is where Kapor got the idea for, um, Notes. Look it up.

Not to mention a few multiplayer games, in virtually every genre, that would have been MMOs except for the problems of any lesson being massive. I saw 25 users in Avatar pretty regular, and once I think I saw 42, but that might have been my imagination. Gaming was bit on PLATO, especially in the UICU days. The times it reported to to be running 24.9 hours a day were fun times indeed.

In 1973, I was learning digital logic, microprocessors, and microwave technology in the USAF. Some time around 1988 I got into Plato courtesy of the University of Maine. I also got kicked off, being just a little to far to the right for =events=. After more than a year hearing how I was Rush Linmbaugh's butt boy, I moved to southern Maine and *actually* heard him for the first time. Hmm. Yup, they were half-way correct - I was where Rush was. Not a good place to debate apartheid and the savings & loan scandals with a bunch of college professors and Marxist students. But it was fun while it lasted. Sorry for all the problems, mainei. They restored the group from backups, right?

I still play avatar on Cyber1 [cyber1.org] . Still good fun. Lots of stats, so come play Zavatar, the economy isn't ruined like the original, and the studs don't own everything yet.

Re:So, What Is PLATO? (4, Funny)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343840)

It wouldn't be the greatest untold story then, would it?

Re:So, What Is PLATO? (3, Informative)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343874)

In a nutshell: It was a preview of most of the features of the Internet (analogs of web 2.0, email, usenet, etc), except it was done on dumb terminals hooked to a central mainframe. Many PLATO systems were hosted on school campuses and used mainly for computer-based education.

They somehow managed to support hundreds of simultaneous interactive user sessions hosted on a single CPU with horsepower comparable to that of an 80286. The graphics-capable terminals used a cool 500x500 plasma display that took advantage of the fact that a grid of plasma dots can act as a memory array, so no frame buffer was required.

Notesfiles and graphical Star Trek (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343920)

PLATO terminals were graphical orange-plasma-screen things, with the best interactive multiplayer Star Trek game *ever* (well, at least for 70s versions of "ever"), and an application called "notesfiles" that was a lot like Usenet or BBSs later became. My university had a few PLATO terminals, and I never had an "author account", so my access was read-only, but it was cool stuff.

Re:Notesfiles and graphical Star Trek (2, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344112)

I've got a better one:

Where were you when Half-Life came out, and which classes did you miss because of it?

I distinctly recall having a big file of undergrad papers to grade and saying "Fuck it. Not when there's a rent in the fabric of space and time".

Re:So, What Is PLATO? (1)

nathan.fulton (1160807) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344396)

It's blackboard, but without patent trolling and general suckage.

Re:So, What Is PLATO? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32344526)

PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations) was the first (1960s) generalized computer assisted instruction system, and, by the early 1970s, there were 1,000 terminals worldwide.

Touchscreens were incorporated into a computer-assisted learning terminal that came out in 1972 as part of the PLATO project.
From here - http://www.notascoolasitseems.com/review/innovation-what-when-and-who#touch

Um... (5, Insightful)

Codename Dutchess (1782238) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343664)

Where were you when PLATO _WAS BORN_?

Then I read that PLATO was born 50 years ago.

Then I read that someone put together a list of what people were doing in 1973.

So, I'm to understand that 2010 - 1973 = 50.

Re:Um... (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343680)

So, I'm to understand that 2010 - 1973 = 50.

Back in the early days of computing they had a little trouble "carrying the one" when doing subtraction ... and it looks like the the other 12, two ;-)

Re:Um... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32343860)

They were older than that, they got their start as a project with Control Data. They were originally used for flight simulator software for the military and ran off of an early mainframe. From there the company grew to support other training software and has very slowly evolved over time. The company really does go back that far, they were around before Microsoft, Apple or even Unix, they are that old.

Re:Um... (1)

Alphathon (1634555) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344056)

and it looks like the the other 12 too ;-)

I fixed that for you. That was just the wrong time to use a number incorrectly ;).

Re:Um... (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344184)

Thanks. I'm horrible about editing during 'preview'. At least compilers warn me about the stupid mistakes I type.

Re:Um... (3, Informative)

FunPika (1551249) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343686)

No it was born in 1960....its just that nobody gave a damn about it until it was 13. Such a lonely childhood....

Re:Um... (1)

querent23 (1324277) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344052)

mod +1

Re:Um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32343978)

yeah seriously whats going on?

Re:Um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32344016)

while PLATO itself was created in 1960, what people are celebrating is the birth of the PLATO Notes, a precursor to LOTUS notes and one of the worlds first online message boards, which was created in 73

Re:Um... (0)

zaft (597194) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344178)

If you actually bothered to read, you might realize that while PLATO was started in 1960, it didn't blossom as a community until 1973 when notesfiles began. Newbie.

Re:Um... (1)

Codename Dutchess (1782238) | more than 4 years ago | (#32345094)

Right, which would make you wonder why the article poster asked the question "Where were you when PLATO was born?". The error obviously isn't mine.

Man, the trolls are plentiful here.

Re:Um... (3, Informative)

dpreformer (32338) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344708)

PLATO was born in 1960. By 1973 it had grown to the point that it enabled social networking of sorts - online games as well as its ostensible purpose for computer aided instruction.

I remember PLATO terminals in the university library when I was first using computers - they were big amber plasma screens that did pretty good graphics for the time. Beat punched cards and green bar paper as far as user interface hands down. It was a lot nicer than the dumb terminals that were starting to be available for coding.

Please explain... (4, Informative)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343666)

I know it's news for nerds... but I've never heard of this PLATO (other than the philosopher), and it would be nice to explain what it is in the summary or in an editor's sentence at the start.

Ryan Fenton

Re:Please explain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32343704)

Do you make a habit of posting simple questions in forums and waiting for a response? How's that working out for you?

http://www.justfuckinggoogleit.com/ [justfuckinggoogleit.com]

Re:Please explain... (2, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343752)

Got a problem with Socratic method [wikipedia.org] of learning? Not like anyone is asking you to drink a cup of poison.

Mod This -1, Pedantic (2, Informative)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344554)

Asking a question when you're looking for information is not the Socratic method. That's being a student, asking a teacher. The Socratic method involves the teacher asking the student a question in order to get the student to think about the problem.

IMO, the AC, despite being rhetorical, is much closer to being Socratic than GGP.

Re:Please explain... (1)

mozumder (178398) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343716)

No.

In an infinite void of nothingness.... (4, Insightful)

FunPika (1551249) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343672)

...because I wasn't born yet.

Re:In an infinite void of nothingness.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32344894)

must post as an A/C - please forgive.

the timeline is close - but not quite close enough so I can honestly say "I was in the dream of my father, nestled in his boxer shorts until a few days later he met my mother."

Back in 1973... (0)

creimer (824291) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343682)

I was a four-year-old who had taken off the cover of the 26" TV console in the living room to poke around the glowing vacuum tubes. "Solid State" (TM) electronics was still a few years off. Surprisingly, I made it out of childhood without electrocuting myself too many times. Since then, I've been working my though every Fortune 500 company in Silicon Valley. Always arriving after some big name had left. Sad but true.

Re:Back in 1973... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343756)

> "Solid State" (TM) electronics was still a few years off [in 1973].

Not true.

Re:Back in 1973... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343790)

Yes and no. I used "electronics" when I meant "TVs". My family didn't get a solid state TV until 1977 and the vacuum tube TVs we had back then weren't retired until the 1990s.

Re:Back in 1973... (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343772)

Solid state was already in high gear by '73, although I suppose most people still had older tube or hybrid sets at the time.

PS - You can only electrocute yourself once. I've been shocked a few too many times though, myself :)

3 years old. (1)

Nick Driver (238034) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344382)

I was a four-year-old who had taken off the cover of the 26" TV console in the living room to poke around the glowing vacuum tubes.

I'm not very far behind you.

In 1973, I was three years old, my dad was a TV repairman who owned his own TV repair business, and I took apart every gadget I could get a screwdriver to.

However, If I tried to remove the back panel of the living room TV set, I would've got my ass busted in a big way. Twice. First by my mom, then secondly by my dad when he got home at the end of the day from running TV repair service calls.

Yes, back then you could still get TV repair service at home.

Exploration (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343702)

From what I've read about PLATO (I was born quite a bit after PLATO's heyday) it seemed to be in stark contrast with today's methods of teaching computers. It seemed like PLATO actually encouraged students to explore computers. Today though, teachers are too paranoid, thinking that the command prompt will "break" the computer and other stupidities.

And we wonder why America experienced a tech boom in the 70s-90s and its drying up. Between the changes in education, legislation designed to make it be even harder to produce technology in the US along with R&D and government-funded monopolies, I don't think we're going to be number one in technology again.

Re:Exploration (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343740)

The tech boom of the 70s-90s came about after the IBM priesthood for the mainframes died out by smaller computers that require less maintenance. As for why there's no more tech boom now, there's no money in computers anymore. College graduates for the last ten years have been chancing after health care to make the big bucks.

Re:Exploration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32343906)

From what I've read about PLATO (I was born quite a bit after PLATO's heyday) it seemed to be in stark contrast with today's methods of teaching computers. It seemed like PLATO actually encouraged students to explore computers. Today though, teachers are too paranoid, thinking that the command prompt will "break" the computer and other stupidities.

From my own experiences, it's not that the teachers are too paranoid and afraid the computer will 'break' from the command prompt, its that the teachers are either completely not qualified to teach a computer course or are given the Teachers Edition of the classes textbook which doesn't help much and are afraid of being shown up/embarrassed by the young kids/students. Happened to me in HS in the mid-90's, teacher told us that x was the correct answer (can't remember the question, was Algerbra 2 course) and I pointed out that it was wrong and told her why it was and what the right one was. A few students laughed since she was wrong and I was sent to the office for that since I accidentally embarrassed her. Its just dumb pride in stupid teachers.

Re:Exploration (3, Interesting)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344026)

From what I've read about PLATO (I was born quite a bit after PLATO's heyday) it seemed to be in stark contrast with today's methods of teaching computers. It seemed like PLATO actually encouraged students to explore computers. Today though, teachers are too paranoid, thinking that the command prompt will "break" the computer and other stupidities.

When I was a student back in the days of PLATO, I had a part time job as the human tutor in one of the PLATO terminal rooms. I don't remember it being focused at all on exploring computers. The system was all about the pre-canned apps. In fact, my memory is a little rusty, but I don't recall that they really had a command prompt at all, at least as far as end users were concerned. I think it was all a hierarchical full screen menu-driven system. (I assume that some CS majors were taught how to write software for PLATO, but that would be a small minority of the users.)

One problem with the course that I worked with was that the software was a bit too linear and inflexible. For example, students weren't allowed to go on to the next problem until they correctly answered the current one, and the range of acceptable answers was usually very constrained. The software basically kept repeating: "Wrong. Try again.", and you were stuck at a dead end.

Unfortunately, back in those days this was often the first exposure the users had to a computer system of any kind. They had never experienced anything as exacting and unforgiving as a computer, and it didn't help to heap that on top of the inherent stress of a "weed-out" engineering class. That's why they needed me to be in there as a backup; I think that some of the people would have eventually gone postal on the terminals if they didn't have access to someone who could see how and why they were stuck, and dole out helpful hints.

Re:Exploration (1)

Lil'wombat (233322) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344298)

You had "Wrong. Try Again". The luxury! In Physics 107 at UofI we got the most basic prompt "No"

Old company (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32343798)

I used to work for them many years back and it was the most archaic company I have ever worked for. Far older than Microsoft or Apple or most other traditional technology companies. Your talking about a company that was old enough to have one of the original licenses for commercial Unix from the early 70's (it was considered an asset of some value at the time even though they no longer produced it). They had technology in use at that time that was 15-20 years old at and still actively supported.

I learned a lot by working with some pretty diverse environments - I distinctly recall having to solve a problem with token ring, 10base2, and a lightning strike all inside a federal maximum security prison. Did I mention the admins were convicted murderers?

The company today is a shell of it's former self, and I think surprises many with it's continued survival. They had a lot of very good internal technology staff, but have long been plagued by management issues. I recall before Y2K the company was claiming their software did not have Y2K issues when it was nowhere near Y2K compliant. Management officially refused to acknowledge the issue and threatened to fire anyone that put anything in writing.

I bribed a developer with a bottle of mountain dew to put a hard checksum into the installer code that would present a unique and undocumented error if someone tried rolling back the clock before installing the software. We got many calls about the mysterious installation error, with every institution that received it told to make sure their system date was correct. They survived Y2K without a single system going down, perhaps the first and last time a company was saved by a 20oz bottle of mountain dew.

They could have been sued into oblivion by any number of institutions if all their data was wiped as they knew about the Y2K issues. This was data that was used to do things like justifying rank for the military, determine if prisoners got out of prison or if students graduated school. Since their public stance was they were Y2K compliant, and a code review would prove otherwise, it was a pretty big deal at the time. When your customers are people like the federal government and the Bill Gates foundation, they have more money for lawyers than you do.

Re:Old company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32344342)

Ha ha, funny. Makes me feel old I guess when I hear people speak of Apple and Microsoft as "traditional" technology companies. IBM, HP, Unisys, those are traditional tech companies in my mind.

what plato is.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32343818)

Google Search Yields:
The PLATO system was designed for Computer-Based Education. But for many people, PLATO's most enduring legacy is the online community spawned by its communication features.

I work in a school that uses plato for an alternative education. Generally the degenerates end up there and "pass" their classes in a few weeks get a GED and go home. So basically it's a shared cop out for both the students and the district.

Re:what plato is.. (1)

Darth Cider (320236) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344490)

The PLATO Notes application that allowed communication was written by David Woolley [thinkofit.com] , who was 17 years old at the time.

Playing With My First Calculator (1)

cmholm (69081) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343888)

While some folks were connected enough to play with PLATO, I was trying some then-new calculator "games", where the pseudo text answers to your arithmetic questions appeared when the display was turned upside down. My device also did square roots! To prove my semi-geek cred, I've still got it (a Kingspoint), functional in all its VFD glory.

My parents weren't even conceived yet. (1)

Vekseid (1528215) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343890)

I wonder how many people we're going to make feel old with this one.

50 years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32343930)

I was the slap that my grandfather gave my grandmother's ass...

dana plato? (1)

ifeelswine (1546221) | more than 4 years ago | (#32343936)

i was swallowing pills when dana plato was born. waaa choo talkin bout?

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Just a twinkle in my daddy's nutsack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32343984)

Or a stain on the sheets, you pick :)

Fond memories of Physics exercises in Loomis Lab (1)

lemonk (220326) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344000)

I have fond memories of taking Physics quizzes and exercises on the PLATO machines at Loomis Laboratory while an undergraduate engineering student at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in the early 90s. The plasma monitors with their orange glow were cool for such "old" technology.

Re:Fond memories of Physics exercises in Loomis La (1)

zaft (597194) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344442)

OMG I worked on the Physics 2 series in 1984-85ish... good times. I was at U of Arizona.

Re:Fond memories of Physics exercises in Loomis La (1)

Ritchie70 (860516) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344496)

I was there 86 - 90 and remember both the old plasma screens and newer green-screen CRT displays. A lot of the plasma terminals didn't work very well so everyone preferred the CRT ones.

I hated using PLATO for physics class because the software was so picky about the answer, giving an "incorrect" for things a human probably would have marked as correct.

As I recall I actually used the PLATO terminals in the basement of the Foreign Language Building more than the ones at Loomis just because they were closer to where I was living.

Re:Fond memories of Physics exercises in Loomis La (1)

lemonk (220326) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344844)

Yea now that I think back I do recall the software being very exacting at times. I lived just down the street from Loomis but I do recall visiting the lab at FLB a few times.

HA (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32344010)

I'm pretty sure the only reason people come here is to bitch about headlines because it sure as hell isn't for the content.

PLAY-DOH & Moonwar (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344022)

Our I.T. administrators at SDSU were soon calling the one demonstration terminal we had for a few weeks the PLAY-DOH system. Who could ever forget playing Moonwar on it. Great fun for its time.

Made some bucks off PLATO conversions to micros (1)

dougsha (247714) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344024)

In the early '80's I made good money from CDC for a few years by converting PLATO ed games to every micro under the sun - Atari 800, TRS-80, Apple II, C-64. My partner Mike Johnston and I bankrolled development of our game ChipWits with money we saved from those contracts. The games we ported were pretty dry - Decimal Darts and such.

In regards to the question asked (1)

jonfr (888673) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344036)

In regards to the question that is asked here the answer for simple for me.

I was nowhere, as I did not yet exist and I where therefore not yet born.

No Plato users here? (4, Interesting)

AstroWeenie (937631) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344042)

Jeez, I can't believe I'm the first actual Plato user to post. I played lots of games on Plato in the middle of the night while I was writing my thesis in 1977-1978. It was amazing at the time -- an online system where you could play real-time networked games with people across the country built around a plasma bit-mapped "high resolution" display (probably 512x512 pixels). There was even a quasi-three-dimensional game called dnd where you explored dungeons with a party of other players. ("Quasi 3-D" because all it could do was draw the lines indicating the corners of walls, ceilings, floors.)

Anyway, I think it was way ahead of its time. I don't know how successful it was as an educational system, but it ought to be legendary as a network gaming system.

Re:No Plato users here? (1)

dunng808 (448849) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344468)

Claim to Fame: Not much
Name: Gary Dunn
Age in 1973: 23
Doing: Graduate school, University of Illinois, Master of Music in Composition

I would walk past this big building every day and see kids working at computer terminals. They seemed strangely engaged, as if in a trance. At the same time my friend John Van der Slice was learning FORTRAN in order to use a music composition program. He used to carry around long boxes of punch cards. I thought computer programming was the nerdiest thing possible, as lame as playing the accordian. In 1984 I was working at the University of Hawaii, writing some audio analysis stuff in Basic on a Harris. In the same terminal room were some PLATO terminals, with erie orange screens. I recall watching someone play hangman against an opponent somewhere on the mainland. I was impressed.

In 2000 I wrote to David R. Woolley in regards to my newly formed Open Slate Project. Here is his reply, being sent from one of my mail account to another:

      At 11:04 AM 9/19/00 -1000, you wrote:

    > I am designing an educational system to be propogated in the spirit of
    > the
    > open-source software community and would like to draw upon the lessons
    > learned
    > at Plato. I found a web page ( [dead link] h t t p://www.cbi.umn.edu/inv/cerlplat.htm
    > ) listing
    > articles related to Plato, but without pointers to the text of the
    > articles.
    > It's a start.

      Yes... I expect that little, if any, of that material is online. To
      read it you'd probably have to travel to where the stuff is physically
      archived (apparently both at the U of Minnesota and the U of Illinois).

    > I would like to ask more questions about Plato, if you are interested.

      Sure, I'd be glad to tell you what I can. If you just have a few
      questions, and they're fairly simple, I can answer by email. If there
      are a lot, I'd prefer to do it by phone. You can reach me at
      [he gave me his phone number but I regret I never called].

      David R. Woolley
      http://thinkofit.com/drwool/ [thinkofit.com]

I find it incomprehensible that PLATO and everything like it has been so successfully kept out of schools.

Mickey Mouse's dog ... (1)

wylderide (933251) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344088)

... Is 50?!?

Well now, let's see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32344090)

A few handful of molecules decided to say hi to each other.
Oh yeah, that was my mother, woops.
Well... i guess the same thing still applies.

Even that one is still too old for me.
Damn all you old people in the future from this post!
I'll shake my walking stick at you too!
Ah, jokes about ill-health, a great game for all the family.

WTF?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32344116)

Micro$$$oft? Aren't they Teh Evil????

Total fucking fail.

Where was I? (1)

bytethese (1372715) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344126)

Not even yet a tickle in my father's pants.

Plato rocked! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32344150)

I remember sneaking into the CCIS Microlab at Rutgers University in Piscataway at age 13. Apple-Trek on the old Apple IIs was OK fun, but the real run to be had was plaing Empire on the Plato systems!

Denied! 403 on the where are they now link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32344290)

Getting 403 on one of your links>

http://www.platohistory.org/blog/2010/05/where-were-they-in-1973.html

Forbidden

You don't have permission to access /blog/2010/05/where-were-they-in-1973.html on this server.
Apache/1.3.41 Server at www.platohistory.org Port 80

user Id graph (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32344456)

to bad /.doesn't have afunction that makes a histogram of userId#s; can't be a lot of articles with 50 replies that include a 3 and a 4 digit user id

I Flunked Out of College Because of Plato (4, Interesting)

WallyHartshorn (64268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344536)

I attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the early 1980s and I flunked out of college in part because of spending too much time playing games on PLATO, particularly a MMO dungeon game called Avatar. The way things worked, the "free" (i.e. not connected to coursework) account I had could only be used at night. As a result, I and similar Avatar addicts would gather in the basement computer lab on Friday night and play until around 5AM or so, when the system went offline for maintenance. At that point we would go to IHOP for breakfast, then return at 6AM to play another couple of hours, until our accounts were booted off at 8AM.

Strangely enough, this was not conducive to good study habits! Luckily, after I flunked out, I managed to get accepted into another university which did NOT use PLATO! :-)

You can install software that emulates a PLATO terminal, allowing you to connect to a PLATO host (Cyber1.org).

Here's a video introduction to cyber1.org: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgMG9NCWoaU [youtube.com]
And here's a video showing a battle in Empire (a Star Trek space battle game): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMPC1eG5cko [youtube.com]

You'll need to view these videos large to really see what's happening.

Re:I Flunked Out of College Because of Plato (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32345036)

Sounds like my habits at U of I too except my game of choice was EMPIRE ...

Had to have a professor grant you an "Author" account and agree to do some TUTOR programming to play EMPIRE everywhere on campus. Regular accounts didn't always allow it ...

In 30 seconds or less.... (1)

ckolar (43016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344570)

Fifty years ago next week
Screens alit with amber glow
Press the NEXT key to begin
Name/group and shift-STOP make it go

AUTHOR MODE choose an option
Pad, avatar, wasted, or empire kills?
But DATA leads to one concoction
That's fun to play and builds your skills

=BTYPING!

Where was I? (1)

lordharsha (1101875) | more than 4 years ago | (#32344632)

Dead.

I actually used it in college. (1)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32345078)

I really didn't understand it, but it was new and I could get to some documents. Never knew how to use any chat function, but I do remember that I used a terminal, a breath of fresh air after punching Hollerith cards. A friend wrote a program to draw images on it. Little did I know.
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