Did You Know? UofI Was First to Launch Computer-Assisted Learning!

PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations)

It was 1960 when computer scientists at the University of Illinois launched the first generalized computer-assisted instruction program. They called it PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations), and it ran on UofI’s ILLIAC computer.

By the late 1970s, PLATO supported thousands of graphics terminals through worldwide distribution, running on almost a dozen networked mainframe computers. PLATO was used to offer coursework to students of UIUC and other universities, as well as elementary and high school students, teaching a range of subjects including chemistry, mathematics, music, and Latin.

Functioning for four decades, PLATO influenced several modern multi-user computing concepts such as forums, chat rooms and instant messaging, as well as online testing, remote screen sharing, blogging and multiplayer video games.

Though PLATO was designed to enable computer-based education, it is best known as the spark behind the birth of the online community, making possible several novel interface and communication capabilities such as PLATO Notes, a 1973 online messaging board that was among the world’s first.

Regarded as the “father of PLATO” is electrical engineer and computer scientist Dr. Donald L. Bitzer, who is also the co-inventor of the plasma display and has contributed to improving classroom productivity via computer and telecommunications technologies.

Today, computer-assisted teaching and learning are more important than ever, enabling remote education through online courses, assessments and communication. ACCC offers UIC students, instructors and staff a variety of services, tools and resources to make this possible.