Matt Chat: The PLATO computer system

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Matt Barton's picture

This week, I take a look at the PLATO computer system, originally developed in the 60s and refined in the 70s and 80s. This system had a touch-screen plasma display and was at least a decade ahead of the competition. The games are very hard but definitely innovative and well worth a look!

Take a look and let me know what you think about PLATO. Is the system simply underrated and ignored, or are the games simply too difficult to interest more gamers? Sound off about PLATO!

Comments

Mark Vergeer
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Nice find - Plato

Very nice find Matt, how on earth did you manage to actually play the games. I can't imagine you have a complete PLATO main frame stuffed into your study? Is it aided by MESS?

On the music, I still am not so keen on the background music as it really is distracting from your interesting narrative. Doesn't do it for me personally, but others are of course complete free to differ.

Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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vectrexmad
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Very interesting

Thanks for showing this. For me it is really interesting to see such old systems and their software.
“A main frame with terminals that interact with the main frame...” - A scheme that still hasn’t gone away despite the “terminals” now being powerful PCs. Cloud computing seems to be the new take on this. I.e. services accessed from a web browser whilst the software and data are stored on servers.

Yes, like Mark I am curious how you played these games?

http://www.vectrex.co.uk

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Bill Loguidice
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More PLATO info here

More PLATO info here:

http://www.armchairarcade.com/neo/node/1396

http://www.armchairarcade.com/neo/node/1139 (The TI-99/4a was the ill-fated lead platform the ill-fated micro-PLATO push)

Books!
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Matt Barton
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Thanks for the comments,

Thanks for the comments, guys! Sorry you didn't like the music, Mark. I really thought I had nailed it this time with keeping it at a very low volume. My stupid USB interface thing didn't come in this week, so I wasn't able to use my awesome microphone to get really good quality speech. Argh! Anyway, it should be here next week, so I'll be able to play with the settings some more.

I was using the emulator available here:
http://www.cyber1.org/

It takes awhile to figure out how to navigate this system; it had a lot of unique buttons that require strange combinations of shifts, alts, and ctrls on a modern keyboard. Still, overall it was fun, and I wouldn't mind exploring some of these games further.

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Mark Vergeer
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wow

So this actually emulates a PLATO terminal with online capabilities from within Windows.

http://www.cyber1.org/download/mac/pterm-mac-v4.17.dmg is a link to the Mac OS version!
I've just installed it and applied for registration. Matt perhaps we could try some online RPG with this - would be fun.

Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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Matt Barton
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That does sound like fun.

That does sound like fun. The games are so difficult, though, it's probably take all day just to figure out how to kill each other. ;) I guess maybe if some of us got on there with SKYPE we might be able to figure it out.

Which of the games looks like the easiest for multiplayer?

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Brian Dear (not verified)
More about PLATO

FYI I am writing a book on the history of the PLATO system including the whole gaming culture. To find out more, see http://www.platopeople.com

Matt Barton
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I can't wait to read the

I can't wait to read the book, Brian. Please make sure we get a review copy here at Armchair Arcade! We know firsthand how hard it is to get attention on these things and reward them for all their hard work.

BTW, Mark & Bill (or anyone else for that matter), please consider making some video responses to Matt Chats. I saw a Youtube that claimed this would dramatically spike audiences for everyone involved, so could be a nice mutual thing. :)

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Matt Barton
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I made a poll concerning the

I made a poll concerning the music:

Please vote!

Thanks!

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Mark Vergeer
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A video response to Matt Chat no 15 - the PLATO system

A quick video response from the Nation of France.

Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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