PLATOTerm access form the ZX Spectrum

30-8-2018, Received from Thomas Cherryhomes (by Facebook).

PLATOTerm is a terminal program that is used to access PLATO systems, of which there are two remaining. IRATA.ONLINE and CYBER1 dot ORG.

The website for IRATA.ONLINE is:

PLATO was a legendary online timesharing service, originally for educational use, but expanded due to its immense capabilities, that ran from 1962 until 2015, originally created by the University of Illinois, and later sold to organizations and schools by Control Data Corporation.

The service was extremely unique in that it was graphical. The official terminals utilized a 512×512 flat screen gas plasma touch panel with a distinctive orange glow, and in fact the gas plasma display was originally developed AT PLATO for the expressed purpose of being a display FOR the PLATO project that did not require a seperate display memory to function, but I digress.

More to the point, as part of the IRATA.ONLINE project, I am explicitly creating terminals for a whole host of vintage computers, so that they can connect to the service, and use it. This, I believe, has profound effects on the whole greater community, because for the first time, we all have an online service that we can connect to, that we all can interact with, consistently, and because the PLATO system itself has a built in development environment (with its own language, TUTOR), that anyone can use, we can all make new, unique multi-user experiences that we all can share. To date the following terminals are being worked on:

Atari 800 (done)
Apple II (done)
Commodore 64 (done)
Commodore 128 (done)
TI 99/4A (in progress)
Atari ST (in progress)
ZX Spectrum (in progress)
Amstrad CPC (in progress)
Apple IIgs
Commodore Amiga
BBC Micro
Acorn Archimedes
and a few others…

The reason this is possible is because the core terminal itself is written in C, and is highly portable. This allows me to port to a wide variety of machines in parallel, so long as there is:

* A display with at least 256 pixels across by 192 down.
* A working C compiler
* A working library with functions to plot a dot (if not a line)
* Some sort of working comms I/O, serial or ethernet.

The current code for PLATOTermZX is public, and is here:

Why do this?

…because we can’t get a ZX Spectrum onto Facebook, or Instagram, or a Commodore 64, Apple II, etc.. but we can get them onto this.