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June 2010 Archives

Donald Bitzer was invited on The Phil Donahue Show twice to demonstrate PLATO. The first time was around 1978. I have a copy of that video. But I am still looking for a copy of the 1981 second show, for which I believe he was sole guest, and had the entire hour to demo PLATO. (The first show he had to share with an annoying fake robot named AROK that trivialized much of the rest of the show.)

If anyone has a VHS, Beta, DVD, or other recording of the second Donahue show, please let me know (email brian at platohistory dot org). Thanks!

The PLATO: A Culture of Innovation panel from the PLATO@50 conference, June 3, 2010. Featuring Don Bitzer, David Frankel, Tina Gunsalus, and Bob Price. Moderated by Bob Sutton. About 80 minutes long.

The Software Panel at the PLATO@50 conference featured Dr. Bob Rader, Dr. Bruce Sherwood, Mike Walker, and moderator Steve Gillmor. It's about 68 minutes long.

The PLATO@50 conference panel on Hardware Innovations featured Dr. Donald Bitzer, Dr. Roger Johnson, and Dr. Larry Weber. The Moderator was Philip McKinney. It's about 86 minutes long.

The Games Panel at the PLATO@50 conference featured John Markoff (Moderator), Bruce Artwick, John Daleske, Dr. Brand Fortner, Dr. Andrew Shapira, and Rich Hilleman. It's about 71 minutes long -- enjoy!

The Computer History Museum has uploaded another video from the PLATO@50 conference, late this afternoon -- the panel on Online Community. Featured are Charlene Li (Moderator), Dave Woolley, and Kim Mast, and Lili Cheng of Microsoft.


The Computer History Museum uploaded another high-definition video of a PLATO@50 panel session to YouTube today. This is the 1hr 9min video of the Online Education panel from June 3rd. It features an introduction by CHM CEO John Hollar, and a panel including Dr. Ruth Chabay, Dr. Sharon Dugdale, Bonnie Anderson Seiler, and Dr. Bruce Sherwood. The Moderator is Dr. Roy D. Pea:


You know that pile of computer tapes you have in the basement, or was it the attic? You know, the ones in those dusty old boxes that you stuffed away twenty or thirty or maybe even thirty-five years ago? The ones that contain backups of everything on the PLATO mainframe you worked on? Yeah, those tapes.

Could I borrow them?

I'm getting a lot of requests for tapes lately. I stopped asking for 'em long ago, but I guess the conference triggered interest in backup tapes again. If there's one thing I've learned over the years -- someone somewhere has tapes. Someone somewhere always has the pile of stuff you're looking for, be it tapes, brochures, articles, Kodachrome color slides, snapshots, movies, videos. It's out there somewhere.

I recently had dinner with some of the folks and they were very interested in tapes too. They'd like to restore stuff on those tapes and get the lessons, notesfiles, whatever, onto I'd love to see that too.

Got tapes? Lemme know. Thanks.

Stumbled on this oldie from the early 1970s. Written by Mike Carroll ("Hob"), Mike Folk ("Starry"), and Tom Stieglitz ("Condor"):

Twas the week before finals,
And on every term
The gamers were playing, making everyone squirm
The Cyber was clicking, the disks were a-spin
And the people in moonwar were trying to win
S-3's on remotes were blinking and flashing
(Every 5 minutes the system was crashing)
A new version here, and a new version there
Was enough to make even John Eisenberg swear
The Baron was BLEEPING at the raunched Comptech2
And Fuller was missing his space: fr2
Pad was in shambles, thanks to aero of glass
And everyone's heading for talko, en masse.
Poor John Daleske (as empire dies)
Is tearing his hair: tears in his eyes.
Meanwhile Pete Rowell and his friend Al McNeil
Are busily trying to make Nova look real
With cookies we authors, try Frankel to please
And Rick Blomme's beard is down to his knees.
He's being attacked, he's getting quite mad
But he's still the best friend the games ever had.
Then what to my wondering eyes should appear
But a sorrowful Sweater and a can of ROOT BEER.
"I'm hooked on my Fanta, I've given up hope...
The withdrawal is bad, like being on dope."
The author of pad, gandy, et al.
Will hopefully be back on the system next fall
For those that we've missed (we know quite a few)
Check back in a month, when we write version 2.
Hob, Condor, Starry: We all need a rest.
We know this is poor, but we did do our best.

The technology website Punto Informatico has a writeup about PLATO's 50th anniversary. It's in italian. Here's a link to a rather bumpy machine translation to English via Google Translate.

PLATO@50 Commemorative Booklet For those unable to attend the conference, I thought you might be interested in this. One of the things we put together for attendees was a 24-page illustrated booklet summarizing the history and significance of PLATO.

The Computer History Museum has a relationship with the MagCloud service which lets anyone print their own magazines, and they've begun a series of computer history booklets at the MagCloud site. The PLATO@50 booklet is the second in this new series.

Click on either the above or below image to go to the MagCloud page to get details on the booklet and to find out how you can get a copy.

PLATO@50 Commemorative Booklet sample pages

The booklet has a nice foreword by Donald Bitzer, has lots of great photos and PLATO screen shots in all their glorious orange pixels, and text written by yours truly. CHM did a really nice job on the design and layout too. Enjoy it!

One technical note: I was particularly pleased at how well some of the PLATO screen shots came out. I often hear print people and layout folks shudder at the notion of rendering 72-dots-per-inch screen grabs direct into print, as they usually want 150-dpi or even 300-dpi for print use, and 72-dpi seems to set PhotoShop gurus right off. But happily, the plain ol' 72-dpi TIFF screen grabs came out fine. Whatever magic they did to get them in the booklet worked.

The Computer History Museum had posted the first video of the entire evening of June 2, including introductory remarks by CHM CEO John Hollar, a 15-minute PLATO historical overview by yours truly, and then the conversation with Donald Bitzer, Ray Ozzie, and John Markoff. It's about 90 minutes total. Here it is:

We did it.

Thanks to everyone who helped, organized, moderated, spoke, made it happen.

And thanks to everyone who came to the event. I think it went over pretty well.

Time to rest :-) I'll post more when I have energy!

The Reunion event starting around noon today was wonderful. A real surprise was the "PLATO @ 50" cake, which Don and Maryann Bitzer ceremoniously cut the first piece from.

Great to see so many folks, many for the first time.

Back now to frantic last-minute preparation for the conference program which kicks off tonight at 7pm sharp. See you there!


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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