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What Today's Tech Elite Were Doing in 1973

In 1973, the year social computing began on PLATO, the PLATO system got the perfect storm of apps that would forever change the use of the system: PLATO Notes (message forums), Talk-o-matic (chat rooms), and TERM-talk (instant messaging).

What were some of today's tech luminaries doing in 1973? Let's have a look:

Claim to Fame Name Age in 1973 What They Were Doing
Apple Steve Jobs 18 Dropped out of freshman year at Reed College in Oregon; stuck around for a while auditing classes in calligraphy. Later returns to Silicon Valley, winds up working at Atari.
Apple Steve Wozniak 22 Joined Hewlett-Packard; began "Dial-a-Joke" hotline out of his home.
Twitter Evan Williams 1 In diapers, on a farm in Clarks, Nebraska.
Facebook Mark Zuckerberg -- Would not be born for another 11 years.
Amazon Jeff Bezos 9 Attending River Oaks Elementary School in Houston, TX.
DELL Michael Dell 8 Attending Herod Elementary School in Houston, TX.
AOL Steve Case 15 Student at Punahou School in Honolulu, HI.
Google Larry Page Infant In diapers, being raised in East Lansing, MI.
Google Sergey Brin Infant In diapers, being raised in Moscow, USSR.
Google Eric Schmidt 18 Attending Princeton University.
Google Marissa Mayer --- Wouldn't be born for another two years.
Wikipedia Jimmy Wales 7 Attending tiny one-room schoolhouse in Huntsville, AL.
The Web Tim Berners-Lee 18 Graduated from Emanuel School and entered Oxford University.
Oracle Larry Ellison 29 Working at Amdahl Corporation.
Netscape Mark Andreessen 2 Two year old in Cedar Falls, IA; family would move to New Lisbon, WI.
craigslist Craig Newmark 21 Student at Case Western Reserve University
eBay Pierre Omidyar 6 Moved from native Paris, France to Potomac, MD; attended Potomac School.
eBay Meg Whitman 17 Attending Cold Spring Harbor High School, Cold Spring Harbor, NY
Yahoo Jerry Yang 5 Bouncy five-year-old growing up in Taipei, Taiwan.
Yahoo David Filo 7 Attending school in Lake Charles, LA
YouTube Chad Hurley --- Would not be born for another three years.
YouTube Steve Chen --- Would not be born for another five years.
FourSquare Dennis Crowley --- Would not be born for another fourteen years.
LinkedIn Reid Hoffman 6 Six-year-old kid growing up in Berkeley, CA.
Linux Linus Torvalds 3 Toddler growing up in Helsinki, Finland.
Digg Kevin Rose --- Would not be born for another four years.
ChatRoulette Andrey Ternovskiy --- Would not be born for another twenty years.
Microsoft Bill Gates 18 Graduated from Lakeside High School in Seattle, WA; worked as congressional page at the U.S. House of Representatives; enrolled in Harvard University in the fall.
Microsoft Steve Ballmer 17 Graduated from Detroit Country Day School in Beverly Hills, MI; enrolled in Harvard University.
Lotus Notes, Groove, Microsoft Ray Ozzie 18 Graduated from Maine South High School in Park Ridge, IL; enrolled in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Started using PLATO the following year.

At the conference next week, Ray Ozzie will be on hand among many other PLATO folks to share their insights and experiences. Two other notable speakers are Dave Woolley, who wrote PLATO Notes when he was 17, and Kim Mast, who wrote Personal Notes (PLATO's email system) in early 1974 when he was 18. Doug Brown, author of Talk-o-matic, will be attending the conference. Among the panel sessions is one devoted to the topic of the emergence of online community -- and essentially the birth of social media -- on PLATO in 1973-74. Not to miss.



Learn more about the book:

The Friendly Orange Glow: The Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture, by Brian Dear

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