PLATO: How an educational computer system from the ’60s shaped the future
It’s fascinating to think about how much has changed in the tech world in just a few short decades. Who would have thought that the relatively simple computer systems of the 1960s would have such a profound impact on the way we live and work today?
One such system was PLATO, an educational computer system originally developed by the University of Illinois. PLATO was designed to be used by students and educators for a variety of tasks, including taking and submitting assignments, taking tests, and participating in online discussions.
Despite its relatively simple design, PLATO had a number of features that were ahead of its time. For example, PLATO was one of the first computer systems to use a graphical user interface (GUI). This made it much easier for users to navigate and use the system, and laid the groundwork for the development of the modern GUI that we use today on our computers and phones.
PLATO was also one of the first computer systems to offer online collaboration features. These features allowed users to work together on projects, sharing files and ideas in real time. This was a groundbreaking development at the time, and laid the foundation for the development of modern online collaboration tools like Google Docs and Slack.
PLATO’s impact on the tech world is still being felt today. The system’s developers went on to found a number of successful tech companies, including Scorpion Software, which was responsible for developing early versions of Microsoft Word and Excel.
So next time you’re using a modern computer system, take a moment to think about how PLATO, a system developed over half a century ago, helped shape the future of the tech world.