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 Internet
Here 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 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 moment.
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 more 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 Like all technology visions, PLATO grew outdated and was disrupted by competing visions.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.