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[ih] We can hang up now, it's all done.

I've had folks tell me they built, or they heard about others who  
built, talk-like programs in the 60s, to let two people talk live,  
character by character, back and forth.  (There may have been one on  
PLATO III in the '60s, I'll have to dig through my oral history  
transcripts.)  It doesn't surprise me in the least that others had  
hacked together simple talk programs on other systems.  Heck, people  
have been yakkin' over the wires since the days of the telegraph.

One thing I've learned is that when it comes to software and hardware,  
somebody else always had the idea earlier, and whenever one cites X as  
the first date of an instance of Y, someone else will come along with  
an earlier example, and then a third person -- and it sometimes takes  
years -- identifies an even earlier example.  For example, lots of  
people often cite Vannevar Bush's 1940s article as the original idea  
of hypertext.  I would argue that Edward Thorndike offered just as  
compelling a vision in 1912.

My point with the PLATO citations is that as far as I'm concerned,  
these were the first uses of these online activities at a significant  
scale, thousands of users.   What is hard for many folks to grasp is  
the scale of PLATO -- relative to all of the users connected to  
ARPANET, PLATO had more users for at least a decade.

- Brian

On 22 Nov 2009, at 16:32, John Day wrote:

> And along these lines, Brian can correct me because even though  
> PLATO was a block down Springfield Ave, I personally didn't have  
> that much contact with them.  Others in our group did.
> The earliest AIM, messaging I am aware of was Jim Calvin's Tenex  
> hack that we used on the ARPANet in 1972.  I still have transcripts  
> of some of those evenings or did.  We called it teleconferencing in  
> those days, but it was basically AIM.  I could go back and look but  
> Jim had hacked the Tenex command that let you share "screens." (The  
> early version let everyone speak at once and the characters would be  
> interleaved. After he got it running, he quickly started adding all  
> sorts of features.  (I may even have the documentation somewhere).  
> We had been using almost nightly to chat and discuss "big ideas" and  
> I believe that people got wind of it and it was included in the ICCC  
> 72 demo of the ARPANet.  After that there were a spate of papers on  
> "teleconferencing" at some conferences.  Again, it was messaging,  
> not what we call teleconferencing today.
> Also in early 1976, we used a PLATO plasma screen to which a touch  
> panel was added interfaced to an LSI/11 as a single use "intelligent  
> terminal."  The LSI/11 was running a stripped down version of UNIX  
> that we created called EUNIX.  It was either an early X-Windows or  
> an early PC depending on your point of view.  The first version was  
> used with a land use planning system that displayed maps of the 6  
> counties around Chicago down to the township (6  by 6 sections) and  
> section level (a square mile) with land use data stored on 2  
> databases on either coast and accessed over the ARPANET.  There was  
> a keyboard for major text entry but interface was primarily driven  
> by touching the screen.  Data could be searched, displayed, combined  
> and otherwise manipulated and displayed in graphs and maps.
> A version was also created for the DoD that was used in DC and Hawaii.
> Take care,
> John
> At 13:09 -0800 2009/11/22, Brian Dear wrote:
>> The SixRevisions article, as well as The Guardian's recent online  
>> coverage of the "history of the Internet", both get numerous things  
>> wrong.  The fundamental problem is that you can't do a "history of  
>> the Internet" and then talk about the earliest examples of various  
>> online phenomena, because many of the online firsts did NOT happen  
>> on the Internet or its precursors like ARPANET.
>> * "1979: MUD - The earliest form of multiplayer games"
>> This is simply wrong.   The PLATO system had a thriving community  
>> of game players and game developers who created multiplayer games  
>> years before "MUD" was developed.  "MUD" is in fact not even the  
>> first MUD.   A multiplayer spacewar game was developed by Rick  
>> Blomme on PLATO III around 1969.  Then on PLATO IV starting in 1972  
>> a whole rash of multiplayer games popped up, like Dogfight,  
>> Fishwar, and other "big board" games (the whole notion of online  
>> multiplayer Big Boards, where you could go see who was waiting to  
>> play a game with you, started on PLATO).   In the following three  
>> years games became even more sophisticated, like the famous  
>> Airfight by Brand Fortner, a genuine shoot'em'up dogfight airplane  
>> game supporting 16 players, that was the inspiration for Bruce  
>> Artwick (both Fortner and Artwick attended the U of Illinois) who  
>> went on to create on of the biggest games in history --- Microsoft  
>> Flight Simulator.   Then there were a whole slew of mutliuser  
>> dungeon type games, including pedit5, oubliette, Avatar, Moria,  
>> Emprise, dnd, and so on.  None of it on Internet or ARPANET.
>> * 1978: The first bulletin board system
>> This may be technically true but it ignores the real point that in  
>> 1973 the Institute for the Future had its FORUM system on ARPANET,  
>> and at the same time PLATO Notes came out, the a full-fledged  
>> message board system.  PLATO Notes inspired Ray Ozzie (now Chief  
>> Software Architect of Microsoft) to create Lotus Notes.
>> * 1982: The first emoticon.
>> The real history is that emoticons were far richer and more  
>> graphically complex BEFORE 1982.  It's one o those weird Darwinian  
>> twists, where the earlier organism was far more complex but lived  
>> in a single environment and couldn't exist anywhere but.  On PLATO,  
>> you could superimpose one typed character onto another, or even a  
>> bunch of characters, and in so doing create very sophisticated  
>> emoticons. See platopeople.com/emoticons.html for screen shots.
>> * 1985: Virtual communities
>> Way way inaccurate, and again, probably copied from The Guardian's  
>> piece which also pushed this myth.  The WELL (which I have been a  
>> member of since 1986) was a relative latecomer to the world of  
>> online communities if you compare it to PLATO, which in 1973 had  
>> notesfiles (message forums), chat rooms, and instant messaging.   
>> The WELL wouldn't exist for another dozen years.
>> As for writing a dissertation on the development of online chat and  
>> IRC, if you want to be accurate you better include PLATO because it  
>> pre-dates AIM, IRC, and the Unix "talk" command.   Go research the  
>> history of PLATO's TERM-talk (1973) and Talk-o-Matic (1973) if you  
>> want to know about the earliest history of instant messaging and  
>> multi-user chat rooms.
>> - Brian
>> Brian Dear
>> PLATO History Project
>> La Jolla, California