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The PLATO Architecture

PLATO is designed to be extremely responsive to keys. Every keypress is processed individually by the central mainframe, but the response (or "echo") is usually so fast as to appear instantaneous. An echo time of 100 milliseconds is excellent; anything over 250 is considered unacceptable.

This is vital, especially because displays do not appear instantaneously. Originally, all PLATO terminals communicated at 1200 bps. At that speed, a long posting in Notes might take up to 10 seconds to fill the screen. But a single keypress aborts the display and moves on if the first line or two of a note doesn't spark your interest.

The ability to abort pending display output is crucial. Even now that faster connections are possible, connecting through a network that does not permit aborting output makes PLATO feel maddeningly sluggish.

Copyright © 1994 by David R. Woolley

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Copyright (c) 1996 - 2006 Elizabeth Mattijsen
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