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Journal Journal: Preservation of PLATO

Anyone who is interested in participating in rebuilding some of the community that was PLATO, whether it be from CERL, the various CDC systems, FSU, Hawaii, South Africa or Europe, the NovaNET system, or anyone who is interested in seeing what existed on-line over 30 years ago, should check out for more information.

The PLATO system, developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at the Computer-Based Education Research Laboratory, and eventually marketed by Control Data Corporation, was a pioneer in many ways. Designed as a Computer-Based Education delivery system, it became much more. Although there are still running production systems derived from the original PLATO, there has been concern that this treasure might be lost to neglect. In the interest of preservation, we've been able to secure non-commercial rights from VCampus, the company that now owns CYBIS, one of the branches that the code has taken via CDC. The system is running already, and we plan to open access within a month or two.

One of the earliest time-shared computer systems (only Dartmouth's BASIC time-shared system has a credible claim for precedence), PLATO grew a culture and community second to none that has had far-ranging effects ever since. Many things we take for granted today were influenced by developments at CERL. E-mail, newsgroups, "chat", on-line multi-player interactive gaming, multiple networked systems, and even the plasma screen were all available on PLATO while the ARPANET was still in its infancy.

Thanks go to VCampus and Nat Kannan for allowing us to run the CYBIS software, Craig Burson for doing the dirty work of actually tracking down and collecting the code for us, Syntegra for allowing us to run early versions of NOS, Tom Hunter and the Controlfreaks gang for all the work that went in to getting the Cyber emulator running, Paul Koning for getting the CYBIS code running, and Mike Cochran for the drive to put it all together.

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