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Long before Facebook's and Google's founders were born, and before Microsoft and Apple were founded. Before Xerox PARC. Before the Web. AOL. Bulletin boards and CompuServe. Before the Internet. Long before MOOCs (massively open online courses). Before pretty much everything we take for granted today, there was the PLATO system: home of not only computer-based education but, surprisingly, the first online community, and the original incubator for social computing: instant messaging, chat rooms, message forums, the world's first online newspaper, interactive fiction, emoticons, animations, virtual goods and virtual economies, a thriving developer community, MUDs (multi-user dungeons), personal publishing, screen savers. PLATO is where flat-panel gas plasma displays come from, and was one of the first systems with touch panels built-in to the screen. Countless other innovations. This site offers details regarding an upcoming book about the PLATO system, the people who designed and built it, and the user culture that it spawned in the 1970s and beyond. For more details, click any of the links at the top.
A book in the works for more than two decades. Based on extensive research, including interviews with hundreds of key individuals who designed, built, managed, sold, and used the PLATO system.