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  University of Illinois graduate student Lippold Haken wires a computer processor built in 1986 to run PLATO, a networked computer learning system years ahead of its time.  

In The Time Of PLATO

How students at Illinois created today’s computer technology 50 years ago

By Mary Timmins


They came as inquisitive children. They left as virtuosos, versed in a computer environment decades ahead of its time. Such were the days of PLATO, a networked teaching system launched at the University of Illinois in the ’60s and celebrated at a recent conference in California.

Under the guidance of professors Dan Alpert ’63 and Don Bitzer ’55 eng, ms ’56 eng, phd ’60 eng, gifted students – many still in high school – pioneered a new way to interact by computer, in an era when data was stored on paper tape and memory cost $2 per bit. Inspired by enormous technical challenges to wild feats of ingenuity, PLATO’s mutable crew of young investigators devised innovations that made possible interactive lessons in which UI students not only learned material but engaged with it and were graded, all on computer. In this endeavor, they prefigured the shape of things to come with touch screens, plasma displays, online chat rooms, multiplayer gaming, cable modems, smart phone lines, instant messaging, blogging and e-newsletters.

Read more: http://www.uiaa.org/illinois/news/blog/index.asp?id=163

 

 

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