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The PLATO Diaspora

Control Data ran into serious trouble in the late 1980's, and sold or closed many of its businesses. At the same time, microcomputers were becoming a more cost-effective platform for education than PLATO with its mainframe-based architecture, and many of the Control Data systems were shut down.

Today the PLATO name is owned by Minneapolis-based TRO, Inc., but TRO no longer runs any mainframe PLATO systems. Control Data's PLATO has been renamed CYBIS. Control Data Systems supports about a dozen CYBIS systems at university and government sites. There might still be some former Control Data customers running PLATO on their own.

IMSATT Corporation, a Control Data spin-off based in Falls Church, Virginia, has recently begun offering a CYBIS-based service called Homer. It is targeted at home users and is available over the Internet.

At the University of Illinois, where it all began, PLATO has been renamed NovaNET. The U of I system racks up about 1.5 million hours of use per year, and is now operated by a private company, University Communications, Inc., of Tucson, Arizona.

The CYBIS systems still use the original PLATO Notes software. On NovaNET, a team headed by Dale Sinder rewrote Notes in 1991. Among the new features are multi-page notes and better search capabilities. But all of the key features of PLATO Notes, including the star structure of its notesfiles, have been kept.

Personal Notes has also been replaced on NovaNET. The new version uses a star structure to provide a level of organization that was never possible before. Each user's mailbox now looks and works much like a group notesfile, with the user as its director and write-only access for everyone else. The new Personal Notes also sends and receives Internet e-mail..

Copyright © 1994 by David R. Woolley

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Copyright (c) 1996 - 2006 Elizabeth Mattijsen
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