Get a FREE Books of the Moment  sampler!
Check Out These
21 Books You’ve Been Meaning to Read
See the List

The Friendly Orange Glow

The Friendly Orange Glow by Brian Dear
Hardcover
Nov 14, 2017 | 640 Pages
See All Formats (2) +
  • Hardcover $40.00

    Nov 14, 2017 | 640 Pages

  • Ebook $14.99

    Nov 14, 2017 | 640 Pages

Buy the Audiobook Download:

Product Details

Praise

“Absorbing and eye-opening history. . . . Entertaining, anecdote-laden account waxes more than a little nostalgic about the little-remembered program . . . behind cyberculture’s flourishing global impact.” 
Booklist


“Brian Dear has made an important and fascinating contribution to the history of the digital age. This insightful book tells the story of the pioneering system of networked computing known as PLATO.  Much of what we enjoy today sprang from PLATO and the colorful community that created and embraced it.” 
Walter Isaacson, author of The Innovators and Steve Jobs

“A full decade before the history most people believe, PLATO was the original system that inspired modern computing—and even the cloud. Designed and built by Midwestern pioneers starting in 1960, PLATO was still operational when I attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the early 1990s. In fact, I took math classes on it before building Mosaic. This story is a testament to the importance of both innovation and timing!”
—Marc Andreessen, co-founder, Netscape and Andreessen Horowitz
 
“I loved this deep unknown history. An incredible tale of a rag-tag team of students inventing key technologies—flat screens, instant messaging, networked games, blogging—decades before Silicon Valley, and then they were totally forgotten. Your mind will be blown.” 
—Kevin Kelly, Senior Maverick for Wired Magazine and author of The Inevitable
 
“This exuberant history . . . offers a lively portrait of the energy and creativity that a networked world can unleash. . . . Dear’s sprawling re-creation conveys the excitement of technological innovation and the freewheeling eccentricity of this vibrant scene.” 
Publishers Weekly

“Promoted as an educational experiment, PLATO became home to the first interactive games, electronic communities, student hacking escapades and online romances. Could Nixon’s staff censor online impeachment discussions?  Is online gaming a form of education?  Should systems sell advertising?  Here’s the astonishing story of that first network—how students and programmers twisted a thousand clunky, connected computers to change the course of computing.”
—Clifford Stoll, author of High-Tech Heretic

“Packed with delightful details, The Friendly Orange Glow offers a fascinating account of how the first initial forays by passionate geeks snowballed to establish digital culture. This book is an essential read for anyone who takes the internet for granted.”
—danah boyd, Founder, Data & Society and Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research

“The word that comes to mind about this book is comprehensive! It is truly a historical tour de force telling the story of the PLATO system, its origins and the people who made it happen. I had a glancing exposure to the program and Don Bitzer in the late 1960s as I embarked on work at UCLA on the ARPANET. The team was wrestling with the neon plasma panel display and I came away very impressed by Bitzer’s palpable can-do enthusiasm. He may have been Felix Ungar to Daniel Albert’s Oscar Madison, but I have never met a more determined engineer in my fifty-year career. This book is a timely reminder of what PLATO people astonishingly accomplished long before the rest of the world caught on.” 
—Vint Cerf, vice president and chief internet evangelist at Google
 
“Finally!  Here is the secret history of the Internet’s elder sibling, the one no one talks about after a mysterious disappearance.”
—Jaron Lanier, author I Am Not a Gadget

“Long before ‘UI’ signified User Interface, ‘UI’ signified University of Illinois, where, fifty years ago, much of what we take for granted as a User Interface for personal and collaborative computing first took form. To an Internet user, The Friendly Orange Glow is like finding a trunk in your attic full of detailed notes kept by your parents chronicling all the adventures they had before you were born. This is history of the best kind: authoritative, intimate, and painstakingly assembled, firsthand. A landmark work.”
—George Dyson, author of Turing’s Cathedral

Table Of Contents

Preface ix
 
Part I THE AUTOMATIC TEACHER
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
 
Part II THE FUN THEY HAD
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
 
Part III GETTING TO SCALE
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

Looking for More Great Reads?
Download our Spring Fiction Sampler Now
Back to Top