Also, a project that led to a historically important multiuser computer system developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Computer-Based Education Research Laboratory. The name was an acronym for Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations. Later marketed by Control Data Corporation and run on its hardware (Cyber/70). The PLATO name is still used as a trademark for computer-based learning systems by The Roach Organization. A successor system, NovaNET, also still operates today.

What do I mean by historically important?

  • Some of the first ever threaded discussion groups happened on PLATO. (The system was called "notes" and was an acknowledged inspiration for both newsgroups and Lotus Notes.) see also
  • PLATO spawned computer-based education "authorware" software for PC called TenCore which enjoyed considerable success through the 1980s
  • One of the first-ever real-time multiway chat programs, talkomatic, was born on PLATO.
  • Many social issues centered around large-scale networked computer use which are now impacting society on an enormous scale were first seen on PLATO back in the 1970s: computer-mediated romance (including several marriages), flamewars, gaming addiction, etc.
  • Several PLATO games were imitated or outright copied into popular PC or UNIX gaming titles: netrek arose from PLATO empire, Wizardry was an almost exact copy of PLATO oubliette...
  • PLATO student terminals (made by Magnavox) included multimedia technologies that would appear in mainstream devices only much later or never, including: random-access audio disks (these were about 0.5 meters wide, analog, magnetic recording), slide projection (through the screen! powered by compressed air!), microfiche viewer, touch screen (via a grid of infrared beams 1mm in front of the screen, spaced about a half-inch apart) (talk about your early "pointing devices"!), plasma panel screen.
  • see also and and AND EVEN,1284,2518,00.html