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

Oment This book is as much the biography of a vision as it is the story of the people behind PLATO Every technology story whether it's about the steam engine airplane telephone Model T or recently Apple Google and Tesla electric car has at its core a vision It is the immutable nature of technology and technology visions to run full life cycles from cradle to grave PLATO's story is no different Like all technology visions PLATO grew outdated and was disrupted by competing visions The Friendly Orange Glow is a revelatory paradigm for our technological age. Brian Dear The Friendly Orange Glow The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture is one of the most knowledgeable and humane books I ve read about the history of computing here about the PLATO system I rarely do this but I recommend The Friendly Orange Glow highly and without reserves and have added it to my favorite list and given it five out of five stars I m curious how this review and book will age Disclaimer I am both a PhD and a full Professor in the technical field of distributed multimedia systems to which the PLATO system belongs I have been waiting for this book for years I m glad I read it I m glad it was written All in shortThe content covers the longest lived success you ve probably never heard about the PLATO education system which during its peak lasting over a decade established the principles of streaming multimedia online education online gaming social networking and a bunch of technologies we re still trying to improve Mostly between the 1950s and the 1980s with a peak in the middle and a rapid descent afterwards Then partially forgotten and rediscovered In the end PLATO had real passionate users some still online after over four decades Like Walter Isaacson s Einstein His Life and Universe this reads like a thorough honest journalistic effort with smarts Like Robert A Caro s now tetralogy The Years of Lyndon Johnson it is also a long term research project by an extremely curious and knowledgeable investigator Now the remainder of my review likely detailed than I intended but not detailed and polished enough to get all the stuff rightStructural and stylistic overviewThe Friendly Orange Glow is structured in three parts encompassing twenty seven chapters It s about 600 pages of core content excluding references but it s one of those books where length does not matter or it s even a plus The uality of the writing is very high which to me comes as a surprise For me books themed on computer history tend to either be too sensationalist or personality cult driven or very dry This one has excellent balance Content overviewIn Part I The Automated Teacher Brian Dear follows the evolution of ths system in its roughly first 10 years from the basic vision of Alpert et al in the 1950s through Bitzer s first diagram and first flimsy TV based incarnation in Sep 1960 to the CDC 1604 supercomputers powering the backend of PLATO II for up to 32 terminals in 1962 63 to PLATO III s 20 real users time sharing and the CATO lecture compiler in 1967 69 to PLATO IV and its plasma display the orange glow and up to 4096 connections by the new CDC CYBER supercomputer and music interface and what not In Part II The Fun They Had the shift to software around the early to mid 1970s leads to real applications that people beyond compsci and general education would enjoy and practically to the premises of online digital presence and long range large scale communication tens to hundreds to thousands of miles between thousands of people although not all online at concurrently this is pompous for chat instant messaging character by character woth low latency something we don t have even now forums collective notes fancy emojis and animated text editable so well beyond what ASCII art brought to the scene online voting political activism and surveys online newspapers blogs etc etc etc And there were online games Online strategy and role playing and first person shooter and flight sim and Elite and all MMOs and as addictive as we know them to be today Nothing was as polished as you see it now but this was say 1975 so almost 45 years ago There s also a very nice parallel to Tom Wolfe s Ziggurat where competitors try to climb at the detriment of others and a deep analysis of the social network forming around PLATO by someone who s actually been there long term and then spent another 25 years interviewing the people who were there Combined with material extracted from the original notes written by these and others in the 1970s and 1980s it s the right stuff with only a little positive bias after all the author likes PLATO and its people In Part III Getting to Scale there s the uestion of business scale and PLATO will end up a product and a pawn in the hands of fumbling CDC leadership We learn about the many deployments of PLATO about a grand vision to scale it to a million terminals CDC about another to make it a general multimedia and communication platform Bitzer and his lab CERL and finally about how these visions bumped into the reality walls of technology and politics and money In the last chapter in this part Leaving the Nest we hear about the major contributions to the industry at large of the former project and tech leads from PLATO now deploying their talents elsewhere there s so much The Epilogue depicts the final shutdown of the PLATO system in 2015 and reminiscence on the topic of what the project actually achieved The Acknowledgements and the Interview and Oral History Sources are also worth reading as are the references and the detailed Source Notes They point to a masterful body of research which gives evidence that the historical material here is credible and accurate LastI can t wait to see a YouTube talk of Brian Dear hopefully at Computer History Museum in Mountain View CA or ar the Charles Babbage Institute at the University of Minnesota Minneapolis MN Or even at a SIGCIS conference if they recover Mischief and Marriage years I m glad I read it I m glad it was written All in shortThe content covers the longest lived success Blackmailed Into the Greek Tycoons Bed (International Billionaires, years from the basic vision of Alpert et al in the 1950s through Bitzer s first diagram and first flimsy TV based incarnation in Sep 1960 to the CDC 1604 supercomputers powering the backend of PLATO II for up to 32 terminals in 1962 63 to PLATO III s 20 real users time sharing and the CATO lecture compiler in 1967 69 to PLATO IV and its plasma display the orange glow and up to 4096 connections by the new CDC CYBER supercomputer and music interface and what not In Part II The Fun They Had the shift to software around the early to mid 1970s leads to real applications that people beyond compsci and general education would enjoy and practically to the premises of online digital presence and long range large scale communication tens to hundreds to thousands of miles between thousands of people although not all online at concurrently this is pompous for chat instant messaging character by character woth low latency something we don t have even now forums collective notes fancy emojis and animated text editable so well beyond what ASCII art brought to the scene online voting political activism and surveys online newspapers blogs etc etc etc And there were online games Online strategy and role playing and first person shooter and flight sim and Elite and all MMOs and as addictive as we know them to be today Nothing was as polished as Her Husbands Christmas Bargain you see it now but this was say 1975 so almost 45 The Geography of Witchcraft years ago There s also a very nice parallel to Tom Wolfe s Ziggurat where competitors try to climb at the detriment of others and a deep analysis of the social network forming around PLATO by someone who s actually been there long term and then spent another 25 Hold On To Me years interviewing the people who were there Combined with material extracted from the original notes written by these and others in the 1970s and 1980s it s the right stuff with only a little positive bias after all the author likes PLATO and its people In Part III Getting to Scale there s the uestion of business scale and PLATO will end up a product and a pawn in the hands of fumbling CDC leadership We learn about the many deployments of PLATO about a grand vision to scale it to a million terminals CDC about another to make it a general multimedia and communication platform Bitzer and his lab CERL and finally about how these visions bumped into the reality walls of technology and politics and money In the last chapter in this part Leaving the Nest we hear about the major contributions to the industry at large of the former project and tech leads from PLATO now deploying their talents elsewhere there s so much The Epilogue depicts the final shutdown of the PLATO system in 2015 and reminiscence on the topic of what the project actually achieved The Acknowledgements and the Interview and Oral History Sources are also worth reading as are the references and the detailed Source Notes They point to a masterful body of research which gives evidence that the historical material here is credible and accurate LastI can t wait to see a YouTube talk of Brian Dear hopefully at Computer History Museum in Mountain View CA or ar the Charles Babbage Institute at the University of Minnesota Minneapolis MN Or even at a SIGCIS conference if they recover

Download ë PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB free ¿ Brian Dear

The remarkable untold story of PLATO the computer program and platform created in the 1960s that marked the true beginning of cyberculture a book that will rewrite the history of computing and the InternetHere is the story of the brilliant eccentric designers developers and denizens often teenagers and twentysomethings of the PLATO system a computer network so far ahead of its time and with a list of hardware and software innovations so long that it's almost inconceivable that it actually existed and existed so long ago only to fade almost entirely from. I must admit that came into this book a little wary I could tell from the introduction that Brian Dear has a chip on his shoulder about UIUC and the midwest in general being underappreciated for their technical advancements and it s a major complaint you ll hear anytime you get a tour of the engineering or related departments at UI I was a little afraid of getting into this too long opus of passion a work of years that would be a little like getting cornered at the party by the guy who s obsessed with gaming and wants to tell you the keyboard shortcuts he s discovered And I wasn t all that wrong But despite the chip on the shoulder and the obsession the core of this book was pretty endearing not an author pun and entertaining The heart of the book is a charming tale of hackers and gamers coming together on an early network a testimony to the recognizable but remarkably early evolution of a connected community Dear was a member of this community himself and is an unabashed fanboy There are significant weaknesses The opening section on the origin of Plato is a bit precious by an author that is a little too amazed by his subject and is trying a little too hard to impress us But it is explained clearly which is a plus The closing 100 pages or so have to explain why Plato has been forgotten how it was mishandled and petered out and he s a little bitter It was a bit rough getting through those sections and each could have been written with greater brevity But the middle section describing the culture and evolution of Plato is a fun and informing read And the author certainly did his homework Lots and lots of homework and perhaps too much of it got into the book but I definitely learned something worth knowing That the where are they now section at the end was super interesting tracing the tradition of Plato into other technologies of the 1990sI got a copy to review from First to Read

Brian Dear ¿ 5 review

Public view The many thousands of people who used the system have held on to the PLATO ideas throughout their careers influencing countless technological products and programs from flat panel wall TVs and touch sensitive screens to chat rooms instant messaging screen savers multiplayer games flight simulators crowdsourcing interactive fiction emoticons and e learning Fascinating first hand and revelatory The Friendly Orange Glow makes clear that the work of PLATO practitioners has profoundly shaped the computer industry from its inception to our very m. Five star books get that high ranking from me when they deliver an emotional connection Sometimes it is because of a topic covered at times it is the strength of the writing that forges that connection Here it is a linkage between a topic of great career building interest to me computer history with my own history With an author that can mix these things together creating interesting and varied stories along the way you have a great book I found The Friendly Orange Glow to be a great book although I expect that opinion will match that of a very small cadre of fans This book tells the story of the Plato system used principally for education but later morphing into one of the first interconnected systems for electronic communications and gaming Most of the book covers the creation of the system and its growth mostly in the 60s and 70s My personal connection was as a gamer in the early 80s at the home base for Plato the University of Illinois CERL I spent many nights you could only play games after 10pm in the CERL Plato classroom among the glowing orange touchscreens of the Plato system Many early games are described in the book from the perspectives of the game authors as well the players I haven t thought about these games in decades but this really brought back intense memories I was interested to learn that the Plato system represented many developments that later became commonplace on the internet including message boards instant messaging notes groups shared screens and the like Authors on Plato went on to create popular computer games like Flight Simulator and Mah Jong and ubiuitous applications like Lotus Notes This history making computer system was enabled through a very open environment with try anything leaders always willing to do a demo Much of the early system work was accomplished by interesting kids from the neighboring Uni High in the goings on and later hiring them The book follows the Plato system through its initial development at CERL and other colleges through the years that CDC attempted to sell it around the world and to its demiseThis is a great book for a detailed telling of the history of this computer system The author provides stories of many of the players on the team building and selling Plato and developing applications This would be a good business book for those looking for an example of open door recruitment as well as the use of non traditional employees And it provides a detailed example of what can go wrong in moving a research project to commercialization I found the commercialization section the least interesting parts though mainly because they were mostly about missed opportunities Overall an excellent computer history The Friendly Orange Glow was written to counter the lack of credit that the Midwest in particular Illinois gets in computer history Here the Plato system gets credit for many innovations later popularized by various applications over the Internet This is the second book I ve perused that gave credit to the Midwest and Illinois for major advances in computers The inventor of the computer says that he first wrote down his description of a computer in a bar in Rock Island Illinois Maybe there s something in the water

  • Hardcover
  • 640
  • The Friendly Orange Glow The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture
  • Brian Dear
  • English
  • 04 July 2019
  • 9781101871553

10 thoughts on “The Friendly Orange Glow The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture

  1. says:

    I must admit that came into this book a little wary I could tell from the introduction that Brian Dear has a chip on his shoulder about UIUC and the midwest in general being underappreciated for their technical advancements and it's a major complaint you'll hear anytime you get a tour of the engineering or related departments at UI I was a

  2. says:

    What a wild ride While at times it was a bit slow especially near the end this book is still phenomenally well researched and captivating I knew almost nothing about the PLATO computer having only even heard about it a month ago no

  3. says:

    Most people have never heard of PLATO But they're familiar with all manner of things which were developed on PLATOIt was originally conceived as a way to provide Computer Aided Instruction CAI The idea was that while a human teacher has little time to devote to one on one instruction with a student a computer is infinitely patient

  4. says:

    A compelling deep eminently readable history of a glaring blindspot in much of popular computer history PLATO pops up Forrest Gump like in the background of almost every computer history story we know that overlaps with its nearly six decade lifespan inspiring the Dynabook inspiring Lotus Notes inspiring some of Ted Nelson's thoughts about interactive media in Computer Lib Dream Machines and hosting the prototypes for some of the most pop

  5. says:

    Five star books get that high ranking from me when they deliver an emotional connection Sometimes it is because of a topic covered

  6. says:

    It feels like this took me a million years to read but I'm glad I stuck with it Dense with information it really blew my

  7. says:

    Brian Dear The Friendly Orange Glow The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture is one of the most knowledgeable and humane books I've read about the history of computing here about the PLATO system I rarely do this but I recommend The Friendly Orange Glow highly and without reserves and have added it to my favorite list and given it five out of five stars I'm curious how this review and book will

  8. says:

    This book is a tour de force as it sweeps through 25 years of missing computing history It adroitly weaves the complex tech

  9. says:

    “The Friendly Orange Glow” by Brian Dear documents the “Dawn of Cyberculture” with deep readable details of the personalities the politics the culture and stories of the development of the PLATO system It reminds me of the uality writing of Tracy Kidder in “The Soul of the Machine” 1981 “The Friendly Orange Glow” strongly deserves the five stars allows Though six would be accurateWhat is PLATO

  10. says:

    The Friendly Orange Glow The Untold Story of the PLATO system and the dawn of cyberculture 2017 by Brian Dear is a fascina

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