[mailhist-discuss] PLATO's personal notes for the timeline

Brian Dear brian at platohistory.org
Fri Sep 18 14:35:26 PDT 2015

Thanks Dave. I kind of assumed the emphasis was on Internet and not a completely self-contained networked world of PLATO users, who numbered in the thousands and exceeded ARPANET user counts until around 1981 but had nothing to do with Internet. Still, I thought it worthwhile to mention PLATO’s own development of email because it happened pretty early on, and, because of its homogenous system architecture, didn’t require much in the way of standards and protocols in order for adoption to be swift and popular.

(As for teleconferencing, there were earlier programs built on PLATO for doing conferencing. Notes became the official, sanctioned, system program for conferencing on PLATO. But there were independent programs written before Notes. One infamous case involved both PLATO and ARPANET in 1973, and nearly resulted in both being shut down by a furious Nixon White House as the discussion centered on whether Nixon should be impeached, and how people could use these online forums to spread news about dates and times for anti-Nixon rallies on campuses nationwide.)

- Brian

Brian Dear
PLATO History Project
Santa Fe, NM
brian at platohistory.org

> On Sep 18, 2015, at 9:33 AM, Dave Crocker <dcrocker at bbiw.net> wrote:
> On 9/18/2015 8:18 AM, Brian Dear wrote:
>> I didn’t see any mention of the PLATO system on the Email History Timeline [1] so here are some details.
> Thanks for the note.
> Formally, the exercise here is to list historical milestones in the
> evolution of email in general.  So, it intends to note technological and
> standards innovations.
> There has always been an interesting tension between 'conferencing'
> systems and 'email' systems, exacerbated by gatewaying between them and
> by the fact that some email systems have used a centralized data base,
> which made them close to conferencing systems.   (Also the first
> teleconferencing system was built to aid in handling the gasoline crisis
> of 1972.  So the timeframes for these two types of services aren't all
> that different.)
> But your note prompts me to think that perhaps there is a separate,
> parallel effort we might consider, namely capturing summary
> descriptions, such as you've offered, for any software or service
> developed along the email timeline.  Arpanet Mail, UUCP mail, Plato,
> OnTym, Telemail, etc., etc.
> How do other folk on this list feel about a casual effort at such a
> compilation?
> I'm envision a timeline table with entries that point to these sorts of
> summaries.
> d/
> -- 
> Dave Crocker
> Brandenburg InternetWorking
> bbiw.net

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