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PLATO@50: PLATO Learning System Software


JamesD
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Sorry these are out of order, there was no play list and I started posting before I saw it was a 6 part series

"On June 3, 2010, the Computer History Museum hosted a 6-session conference on the PLATO learning system. Session 3 was entitled "PLATO Software: Driven by a Clear, Compelling Challenge."

Session 3 Description:
The software architecture of the PLATO Learning System permitted high interactivity with hundreds of users and a TUTOR programming language that enabled faculty (and gamers) to write their own interactive graphics programs. These capabilities required close management of scarce system resources. Learn how it all worked in this discussion with panelists: Dr. Robert Rader, Dr. Bruce Sherwood and Michael Walker. Steve Gilmor moderated the panel.

PLATO Overview:
PLATO was a centralized, mainframe-based system, with very sophisticated terminals connected to it. Its mission was to deliver education electronically at low cost. But it became much, much more than that. It quickly became home to a diverse online community that represented a microcosm of today's online world. Much of what we take for granted in today's hyper-active, always-on world of social media, blogs, and addictive computer games could be applied to what life was like on the PLATO system beginning in the mid-1970s.

PLATO, an acronym standing for "Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations," started as a project of the Coordinated Sciences Laboratory (CSL) at the University of Illinois in 1960. The original goal was to build on the mechanical "teaching machine" work of B.F. Skinner and instead see if it was possible to build a computer that could teach. In time they discovered not only was the answer yes, but computers could be extremely effective, and economically viable, at teaching large segments of the population.

In the 1970s, Control Data Corporation entered into a series of agreements with the University of Illinois to commercialize the PLATO system and bring it to the marketplace. The result was a great expansion of PLATO throughout the U.S. and the world, with systems installed in Canada, France, Belgium, Israel, Sweden, Australia, South Africa, United Kingdom, and elsewhere. Fifty years on, PLATO has left its imprint across a wide range of computing activities, from e-learning to social media, from online multiplayer games to major hardware and software innovations.
..."



The discussion about the development of the PLATO Learning System software (CAI, Computer Aided Instruction).
The timeline begins in the 60s and they talk about the intro of timeshare systems, transition to Fortran, the introduction of Pascal, using graphics terminals instead of just text, real time response to users...
It's quite enlightening how bleeding edge the technology was and how primitive the environment was when they started.
It's also surprising how it impacted the advancement of computer technology as well.

This probably isn't everyone's cup of tea, but the history leading up to the intro of the microcomputer might interest some people.


Edited by JamesD
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Does anyone have experience actually using it? -- the original or another installation?

 

My Uncle taught civil engineering at the University of Illinois (Champagne-Urbana) in the 1970s and early-1980s. I vaguely remember him talking about this massive, multi-user computer system that they had; presumably that was Plato.

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Does anyone have experience actually using it? -- the original or another installation?

 

My Uncle taught civil engineering at the University of Illinois (Champagne-Urbana) in the 1970s and early-1980s. I vaguely remember him talking about this massive, multi-user computer system that they had; presumably that was Plato.

I tried finding out what happened to it, but searches came up with lots of results and no reference to the original system that would indicate some form of it is still around

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It's still in Urbana-Champaign, but no longer online: http://crpgaddict.blogspot.ca/2013/10/game-12-oubliette-1977.html

...

Read the sign.

"By 1987, there were some 12,000 instructional hours in some 100 subjects were available on the PLATO systems."

 

It would be a shame if all of that work went to waste.

 

 

This MAY be what happened to all that.

https://www.edmentum.com/products-services/plato-courseware

 

https://www.globalstudentnetwork.com/homeschool-students-online-homeschool/courses/plato-courseware.html

 

*edit*

 

We like to think that who we are is a lot like who you are—educators committed to the success of every student. It was that commitment that inspired us when we pioneered online education over 50 years ago, and it’s what continues to inspire us to innovate today.

Edited by JamesD
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The earliest Computers mentioned in the top video
All are under 1 MIPS, and from the discussion, the first one had 5000 bytes of memory,
The typical 8 bit computer from the 70's & 80's is probably more powerful than the first two machines,
and the Illiac 1 weighed 5 tonnes

Illiac 1
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ILLIAC_I
https://archives.library.illinois.edu/blog/birth-of-the-computer-age/

CDC 1604
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CDC_1604

CDC 6000 series
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CDC_6000_series

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  • 11 months later...

One of my collecting goals is to possess the Plato Interpreter on cartridge (TI-99/4A) and the whole Plato collection on diskette.

 

Will probably take a lifetime to obtain...

 

I had a nice Plato setup on the TI-99/4a along with a large portion of the disks. I had Plato boxed, but not the original lesson disks (just loose in a disk case). I really don't know how those originally came. Anyway, that and the rest of my collection already left my possession back at the end of December for a live auction in New Jersey some time in April or May. Maybe you or one of your agents can get it then.

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I wish I would have been aware you were looking to move your collection. I could have purchased from you directly, and I might have been able to purchase your entire TI collection for asking price. I had a nice bonus from work in December. :)

 

I wont be able to attend an auction, especially in NJ.

 

Perhaps you could post the items included in the lot to the TI-99 group here... there may be someone who would like to bid on them. I would much rather see the gear go to someone in the active community than some prospecting collector who will put it all on a shelf, never to see the light of day again.

 

Thanks, Bill.

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I wish I would have been aware you were looking to move your collection. I could have purchased from you directly, and I might have been able to purchase your entire TI collection for asking price. I had a nice bonus from work in December. :)

 

I wont be able to attend an auction, especially in NJ.

 

Perhaps you could post the items included in the lot to the TI-99 group here... there may be someone who would like to bid on them. I would much rather see the gear go to someone in the active community than some prospecting collector who will put it all on a shelf, never to see the light of day again.

 

Thanks, Bill.

 

Multiply that request by 500 systems and you can understand why I chose to do it in bulk and with the fewest headaches.

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The PLATO Interpreter for the TI is not too difficult to find (I managed to get my hands on two or three,) and the disks are available for download, though without the books. eBay Seller: isellhomeszach1?ff3=10&pub=5574883395&toolid=10001&campid=5336500554&customid=&mpt=[CACHEBUSTER] has had full disk collections available one-at-a-time. A while back I started talking to him about moving full sets but he stopped replying.

 

This year I already have planned, but I think next year at VCF-SE I will put PLATO up for demonstration.

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