ePUB The Friendly Orange Glow The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture Read – eBook & Kindle ePUB


  • Hardcover
  • 640
  • The Friendly Orange Glow The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture
  • Brian Dear
  • English
  • 18 June 2019
  • 9781101871553
The Friendly Orange Glow The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture

Read The Friendly Orange Glow The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture The Friendly Orange Glow The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture Summary ↠ eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF Read & Download Æ eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF á Brian Dear The remarkable untold story of PLATO the computer program and platform created in the 1960s that marked the true beginning of cyberculture a book that will rewrite the history of computing and the InternetHere is the story of the brilliant eccentric designers developers and denizens often teenagers and twentysomethings of the PLATO system a computer network so far ahead of its time and with a list of hardware and software innovations so long that it's almost inconceivable that it actually existed and existed so long ago only to fade almost entirely from. Most people have never heard of PLATO But they re familiar with all manner of things which were developed on PLATOIt was originally conceived as a way to provide Computer Aided Instruction CAI The idea was that while a human teacher has little time to devote to one on one instruction with a student a computer is infinitely patient It can wait for several minutes while the student ponders something As such what was needed were terminals which could provide useful textual and graphical presentationBack then most computers were at best text based with no graphical capabilities PCs didn t exist We re talking late 1960s early 1970s Many computers being used in universities of that era were still using punched cardsUniversity of Illinois Urbana Champaign UIUC is the setting for most of this They started by developing terminals which could connect to a mainframe originally the ILLIAC and later Control Data mainframes and display various kinds of video information text and graphical as well as taking inputs from various types of keyboards The idea was that you could develop courseware for this platform which would present information to a student one on one and then uiz them on various things adjusting the presentation based on their responses Instead of giving students a test then giving them the results days later too much gap to be useful feedback this system could respond on a second by second basis helping students to actually LEARN stuff changing the presentation and providing useful stats to the courseware authors so that they could improve the courseThey wanted a graphical display The CRTs of the era would need significant amounts of video RAM to drive them Memory was about 2 bit back then not byte kilobyte or megabyte 2 per BIT A 512 x 512 display which they were targeting would need about a uarter million bits of memory You can do the math on that They ended up developing plasma display tech AND making a way for the circuitry to uery the display such that the display could also work as memory People who bought plasma TVs and such back in the 1990s and later were using a variation on the tech they developed UIUC made a ton of money off the patents for thatThe color they chose for their display was a yellowish orange shade hence the book s title It had a remarkable ability to draw people in indeed much of the color found in a campfire is this particular shade They built their 512 x 512 graphical display fitted it with a touchscreen and used it as the PLATO IV terminal the 4th gen of their design It also featured a full keyboard touchscreen and among other things a microfiche reader Various other things could be added a polyphonic music module called a Gooch box and a somewhat limited voice synthesizerVarious demos were done with this getting money from the National Science Foundation and from Congress In the immediate aftermath of Sputnik Congress was willing to spend money on ANYTHING which looked like it might help teach STEM subjects although that term wouldn t appear until later UIUC got a pile of money from both and got to work rolling out the systemsMagnavox made the terminals They were pricey over 5k each in 1973 you could buy a new car for less As such only the wealthy ever had their own terminals But universities and government funded programs in high schools and prisons got plenty of themYes they were a significant step forward in teaching once some bugs had been ironed out in the authoring tools But they were achieving real successes as early as 1974 Along the way various high school and college students were playing with it and came up with some other featuresFirst came notesfiles which are a bit like online forums You could have discussions with other people on various subjects and being a college no subject was off limits Watergate and alternative lifestyles were both heavily discussed You could post uestions to these and have answers appear from other people within minutes sometimes secondsThey also invented TERM talk which was real time chat And I do mean real time Most IM clients I ve used you type an entire sentence or at least a phrase send that and either start the next sentence phrase or wait for a response With TERM talk you could see how fast and accurately people could type because individual characters were coming down the line including backspace as they wiped out their typos and corrected them People met fell in love and subseuently got married having met through this channel Other people fell in love met and discovered that while they got along well online they were thoroughly NOT compatible in personVNC RDP anyone They came up with a monitor mode such that you could see another user s terminal If you were developing some courseware and couldn t get something to work you could chat with a experienced dev they could monitor your screen scroll around if needed and either tell you what to do or fix it themselves Both of you could see the same screen at the same time But you had to reuest that they do so there was no provision for spying on someone else s screen without their knowledge permissionOf course they had email IBM mainframes with green screen terminals had emailAnd since people could dial into systems from elsewhere as far away as University of Delaware and University of Hawaii you could communicate with people across multiple timezones without ever running up a long distance phone billAll in 1974 The Apple 2 didn t arrive until 1977And then there were the gamesDungeon crawlers including massively multi player text based and not long after graphical First person shooters Combat flight simulation FreeCell solitaire Mahjongg And the big baddie of them all Empire While Star Trek themed this was a multiplayer graphical game involving traveling in your starship visiting planets shooting bad guys usually teams of other players establishing trade making money and upgrading your starship Sound familiar At one point the authors mostly students an University of Iowa connected to UIUC over a 1200 baud modems had put in an Easter Egg involving the planet killer from Star Trek s The Doomsday Machine episode After much discussion in the line chat players put their usual team alliances aside and lined up one after another feeding their starships to the orange carrot how the planet killer appeared on their orange plasma displays trying to time a reactor overload JUST RIGHT to kill it off Once it was killed off their old allegiances returned and everyone went back to fighting It made a couple appearances but each time the players knew how to kill it and killed it off faster and faster until the developers decided it wasn t a challenge any and remove itNumerous college and high school students flunked out because they d spend too many hours gaming on the system not enough hours sleeping and studying All kinds of things were done to access terminals after hours including removing sections of wall and hiding behind it until the computer lab was shut down and locked for the night and picking various locks The games in particular were addictive And because this was a largely open source environment again the term didn t exist until later everyone could see how people did stuff everyone could learn and new features were arriving dailyEarly in the system s development a group was developing a library which compiler based languages such as FORTRAN could use to write courseware A high school student came up with an interpreter which was much easier to use The library developers all college students working on related degrees approached the head of the PLATO project Don Bitzer and demanded that he tell this student to stop He was wasting his time Worse if he succeeded their official development would go unused Don refused to intervene he was a firm believer that the better solution would win out and he was not opposed to people developing competing products and letting them duke it out in the marketplace of ideas Incidentally the insufferable student student succeeded with his interpreter called TUTOR and grew up to become one of the power players in PLATOThe managers of the system largely took a blind eye to the gaming It wasn t officially part of their mission but it was extremely good at flushing out security holes and other flaws in the system It was not uncommon for a new feature to appear after hours causing the mainframe to crash repeatedly during the night time gaming sessions This would drive the sysadmins and system developers nuts but they d have the problem figured out and fixed before official hours began the next morning and the overall system improved rapidly because of itEventually different universities and companies had their own mainframe and hundreds of terminals Eventually said mainframes were interconnected so that notesfiles TERM talk and software could migrate between the various networked systems It was a proto Internet Back when Charlie s Angels first went on the airAs went Control Data s fortunes so went PLATO s When Control Data Corp peaked and started falling apart in the 1980s because capable microcomputers had arrived and CDC REFUSED to acknowledge what that meant for the market PLATO went into decline It evolved into NovaNET using client software running on PCs instead of pricey terminals and finally shutdown entirely in 2015Email Chat Forums Interactive multimedia including graphics voice and music Emojis animated ones even Multi player online games The exchange of virtual items found achieved in various games for real money ALL of this was happening in the mid 1970s Before the PC But you had to live go to school in the cornfields Illinois Iowa Minnesota and Indiana were main sites for this to be exposed to it MIT and Stanford decided early on that they simply weren t interested and they never changed Stanford was trying to develop a competing system it never went as far as PLATOThese days when you look at Udacity and Coursera they re freuently trying to create courseware and fighting with problems which PLATO fought with and defeated decades ago But the founders come from MIT and Stanford they never heard of PLATO so they re incapable of learning lessons from that systemAt 500 pages this book is not light reading But it s an enjoyable engaging read And I gained tremendous insight into the origin of many things which are usually attributed to the Internet Sorry to disappoint but no people were using these features getting addicted to an online world LONG before public access to the Internet

Read & Download Æ eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF á Brian Dear

Read The Friendly Orange Glow The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture The Friendly Orange Glow The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture Summary ↠ eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF Read & Download Æ eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF á Brian Dear Public view The many thousands of people who used the system have held on to the PLATO ideas throughout their careers influencing countless technological products and programs from flat panel wall TVs and touch sensitive screens to chat rooms instant messaging screen savers multiplayer games flight simulators crowdsourcing interactive fiction emoticons and e learning Fascinating first hand and revelatory The Friendly Orange Glow makes clear that the work of PLATO practitioners has profoundly shaped the computer industry from its inception to our very m. Five star books get that high ranking from me when they deliver an emotional connection Sometimes it is because of a topic covered at times it is the strength of the writing that forges that connection Here it is a linkage between a topic of great career building interest to me computer history with my own history With an author that can mix these things together creating interesting and varied stories along the way you have a great book I found The Friendly Orange Glow to be a great book although I expect that opinion will match that of a very small cadre of fans This book tells the story of the Plato system used principally for education but later morphing into one of the first interconnected systems for electronic communications and gaming Most of the book covers the creation of the system and its growth mostly in the 60s and 70s My personal connection was as a gamer in the early 80s at the home base for Plato the University of Illinois CERL I spent many nights you could only play games after 10pm in the CERL Plato classroom among the glowing orange touchscreens of the Plato system Many early games are described in the book from the perspectives of the game authors as well the players I haven t thought about these games in decades but this really brought back intense memories I was interested to learn that the Plato system represented many developments that later became commonplace on the internet including message boards instant messaging notes groups shared screens and the like Authors on Plato went on to create popular computer games like Flight Simulator and Mah Jong and ubiuitous applications like Lotus Notes This history making computer system was enabled through a very open environment with try anything leaders always willing to do a demo Much of the early system work was accomplished by interesting kids from the neighboring Uni High in the goings on and later hiring them The book follows the Plato system through its initial development at CERL and other colleges through the years that CDC attempted to sell it around the world and to its demiseThis is a great book for a detailed telling of the history of this computer system The author provides stories of many of the players on the team building and selling Plato and developing applications This would be a good business book for those looking for an example of open door recruitment as well as the use of non traditional employees And it provides a detailed example of what can go wrong in moving a research project to commercialization I found the commercialization section the least interesting parts though mainly because they were mostly about missed opportunities Overall an excellent computer history The Friendly Orange Glow was written to counter the lack of credit that the Midwest in particular Illinois gets in computer history Here the Plato system gets credit for many innovations later popularized by various applications over the Internet This is the second book I ve perused that gave credit to the Midwest and Illinois for major advances in computers The inventor of the computer says that he first wrote down his description of a computer in a bar in Rock Island Illinois Maybe there s something in the water

Read The Friendly Orange Glow The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture

Read The Friendly Orange Glow The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture The Friendly Orange Glow The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture Summary ↠ eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF Read & Download Æ eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF á Brian Dear Oment This book is as much the biography of a vision as it is the story of the people behind PLATO Every technology story whether it's about the steam engine airplane telephone Model T or recently Apple Google and Tesla electric car has at its core a vision It is the immutable nature of technology and technology visions to run full life cycles from cradle to grave PLATO's story is no different Like all technology visions PLATO grew outdated and was disrupted by competing visions The Friendly Orange Glow is a revelatory paradigm for our technological age. This book is a tour de force as it sweeps through 25 years of missing computing history It adroitly weaves the complex technical personal and business story of PLATO It s a compelling narrative held together by great vignettes of the key players who developed the system software and applicationsPlato was a mainframe system originally with custom terminals built to provide computer based education but its authoring system was used to build an entire ecosystem way beyond its designer s original intent multi user games chat rooms email online news and All appearing ten to twenty years before these ideas were reinvented as commercial online systems or on desktop computersA good book is one you can t put down A great book is one that raises uestions beyond the books subject This is one of the great ones CDC buying Plato was one of the corporate slow motion train wrecks that is still painful to read The story of CDC itself is even a larger disaster A large company trying to buy the output of an RD lab and productize its output is still fraught with difficulties even in the 21st century As I read I wondered what if CERL and Plato had been at Stanford rather than U of I in the late 1970 s Would sitting in the middle of an entrepreneurial ecosystem have spurred spinouts And would those spinouts have been better managed surrounded by venture capitalists and other experienced entrepreneursIt also makes me think of the other still born computer entrepreneurial cluster in the Midwest Minneapolis It was the home of ERA CDC Cray ETA and Honeywell In spite of all that history the area failed to attract entrepreneurs startups and capital at scale Yet Minneapolis still has a healthy medical device ecosystem built around MedtronicWere the failures of these two Midwest clusters similar Did they not catch fire from the lack of risk capital venture and angel Not understanding the difference between small business startups and corporate management Lack of an ecosystem that was a magnet for attracting non academic risk taking talent Lack of technical and business press that made their innovations and environment known to the rest of the countryAs great as the book is there was one down side that almost made me stop reading it and therefore the four stars At least for me the extremely detailed recounting of every game on the system and game developer while great for the audience of readers who knew Plato bogged down the narrative A good editor could have made the point of how revolutionary these gaming innovations were but could have shortened this section by at least 20 pagesBut I m glad I continued because this was a wonderful and enlightening piece of computing historyKudos to the author