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Notes and Reflections on Books and Media

by Hannah Leitheiser

PLATO's Death

#platocomputer #cerl #pc #microprocessor

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

Brian Dear




Few of you had likely heard of PLATO. In the 70's, PLATO wow'd people, branches and terminals were being added, the community was growing. Minneapolis-centered Control Data bought in. Bitzer, the creator, floated a goal of one million terminals.

In the '80s, Control Data tanked. Fighting fragmented core staff. The University eyed PLATO money for other projects.

Why? Half of the reason: microprocessors and cheap memory eclipsed mainframes.

But that was not a sufficient reason. The
investment in educational content, games,
and social connection could have been
ported to form an early ISP. The
author claims the rank and file saw
what was coming, but it was
the managers at Control Data
and Bitzer himself that couldn't
imagine anything so radical.