The Friendly Orange Glow: The Untold Story of the Rise of Cyberculture

The Friendly Orange Glow: The Untold Story of the Rise of Cyberculture

by Brian Dear
The Friendly Orange Glow: The Untold Story of the Rise of Cyberculture

The Friendly Orange Glow: The Untold Story of the Rise of Cyberculture

by Brian Dear


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At a time when Steve Jobs was only a teenager and Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t even born, a group of visionary engineers and designers—some of them only high school students—in the late 1960s and 1970s created a computer system called PLATO, which was light-years ahead in experimenting with how people would learn, engage, communicate, and play through connected computers. Not only did PLATO engineers make significant hardware breakthroughs with plasma displays and touch screens but PLATO programmers also came up with a long list of software innovations: chat rooms, instant messaging, message boards, screen savers, multiplayer games, online newspapers, interactive fiction, and emoticons. Together, the PLATO community pioneered what we now collectively engage in as cyberculture. They were among the first to identify and also realize the potential and scope of the social interconnectivity of computers, well before the creation of the internet. PLATO was the foundational model for every online community that was to follow in its footsteps. 

The Friendly Orange Glow is the first history to recount in fascinating detail the remarkable accomplishments and inspiring personal stories of the PLATO community. The addictive nature of PLATO both ruined many a college career and launched pathbreaking multimillion-dollar software products. Its development, impact, and eventual disappearance provides an instructive case study of technological innovation and disruption, project management, and missed opportunities. Above all, The Friendly Orange Glow at last reveals new perspectives on the origins of social computing and our internet-infatuated world.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101973639
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/02/2018
Pages: 640
Sales rank: 387,799
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

BRIAN DEAR is a longtime tech-startup entrepreneur and the founder of companies including Coconut Computing, FlatWorks, Eventful, and Nettle. He has also worked at a variety of dot-com companies, including MP3 and eBay, and he worked in computer-based education for eight years, including five on the PLATO system. He has written for Educational Technology, BYTE, IEEE Expert, and San Diego Reader. Dear lives with his wife in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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Excerpted from "The Friendly Orange Glow"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Brian Dear.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Preface ix
1. Praeceptor Ex Machina 3
2. An Educational Emergency 24
3. The Super-Achiever 43
4. The Diagram 59
5. Soldering Irons, Not Switchblades 75
6. Gas and Glass 92
7. Two’s a Crowd 112
8. Knocking on the Same Doors 134
9. A Fork in the Road 150
10. Lessons Learned 167
11. Impeachment 195
12. The New Wave 212
13. The Big Board 225
14. The Killer App 242
15. Empire 261
16. Into the Dungeon 286
17. The Zoo 306
18. Red Sweater 321
19. The Supreme Being and the Master of Reality 344
20. Climbing the Ziggurat 362
21. Coming of Age 377
22. The Business Opportunity 399
23. The Whim of Iron 435
24. Diaspora 456
25. The Crash Pit 465
26. A Changing of the Guard 486
27. Leaving the Nest 499
Epilogue 517
Acknowledgments 525
Interview and Oral History Sources 533
Bibliography 543
Source Notes 557
Index 581

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