The PLATO System - PLATO@50 at the Computer History Museum

PLATO -- The First Online Social Network

In 1960, Don Bitzer led a project to develop a computer-based education and training system, PLATO.

Fifty years later, the early innovators met at the Computer History Museum to review, applaud, and point to the future.

Here are the six interviews and panels from June 2nd and 3rd, 2010.

From the YouTube intro: "Science fiction writer William Gibson once famously said, "The future is already here. It's just not evenly distributed." Such was the case in the early 1970s, when the fourth generation of the PLATO system, evolving since 1960 at the University of Illinois, made its debut. Viewed from today, it is hard to believe that the PLATO IV system could have existed when it did: Terminals with touch-sensitive, gas-plasma flat-panel displays, random-access audio, built-in color microfiche projectors and a powerful authoring language for developing nearly any kind of program imaginable."

Seeing the Future Through the Past

Dr. Donald L. Bitzer and Ray Ozzie interviewed by John Markoff.

With PLATO Overview by Brian Dear.


A Culture of Innovation - What Don Bitzer Wrought

Dr. Donald L. Bitzer, David Frankel, C.K. Gunsalus, and Robert M. Price. Panel moderated by Dr. Robert Sutton.


PLATO Software: Driven by a Clear, Compelling Challenge

Dr. Robert Rader, Dr. Bruce Sherwood, & Michael Wilke. Moderated by Steve Gilmor.


Online Education & Courseware: Lessons Learned. Insights Gleaned.

Dr. Ruth Chabay, Dr. Sharon Dugdale, Bonnie Anderson Seiler, and Dr. Bruce Sherwood.

Moderated by Dr. Roy D. Pea.


Innovations in Hardware: Mission-based Developments Led Other Places

Dr. Donald L. Bitzer, Roger L. Johnson, & Dr. Larry Weber.

Moderated by Philip McKinney.


PLATO Games: An Early, Robust Community of Multiplayer, Online Games

Bruce Artwick, Dr. Brand Fortner, John Daleske, Dr. Andrew Shapira, & Rich Milleman.

Moderated by John Markoff.


An Early Online Community: People Plus Computing Grows Communities

Say what? Email, notes, interactive networked computer games, Instant Messaging, and more all existed BEFORE the Internet?

A panel discussion on the development of Social Networking.

Lili Cheng, Kim Mast, & Dave Wooley.

Moderated by Charlene Li.