After many long months of development, which started in June, the first official release of PLATOTerm for all the CC65 targets, that is, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, Commodore 128, and Apple II has been released. Thanks to everyone who has helped test and make this program as good as it can be. Much more to come!
Owen Reynolds, who recently did much needed work on the RS-232 routines for the ZX Spectrum version of PLATOTerm, recounts his newfound experience with IRATA and PLATO.
The MS-DOS version of PLATOTerm is now available for testing. You will need an MS-DOS compatible PC and a wifi modem attached to an available COM port, to test.
IRATA.ONLINE is provided for the benefit of retro-computing users to have a place to socialize, and develop interesting multi-user, interactive, and graphical games and social applications. It descends from the historical PLATO system, a massive time-sharing system that lasted from 1962 until NovaNET was closed in 2015. Wikipedia entry.
It is vital that communities grow, and to that end, IRATA.ONLINE is part of a rebirth of the PLATO system that started with the launching of Cyber1.org in 2004, and is the direct result of the efforts of that community to provide a distribution of the PLATO system that could be run on other systems. IRATA.ONLINE was initially intended to provide users of Atari 8-bit computer systems a customized experience that was easy to use. It is hoped that with the introduction of more PLATO terminals for other platforms that IRATA.ONLINE's reach can extend even further.
Where will it go? Who knows. This is an experiment to provide something better than a BBS, by making something that is not only multi-user, but provides a complete social development experience for its users.
IRATA.ONLINE is a PLATO based system, which has the following pervasive features:
If you have a PC or Mac that is already internet connected, all you need is the PTERM software, available from Cyber1.org
(Linux binary builds coming soon. Setting up Package Repositories!)
IRATA.ONLINE provides PLATOTerm, a terminal emulator for PLATO systems such as IRATA.ONLINE, and CYBER1.ORG PLATOTerm is being ported to dozens of systems, and many targets are already available. The source code is also available for all of these targets, so that the terminal can not only be improved, each target can be used as a concrete example of how to realize a PLATO terminal for a platform currently not covered by PLATOTerm.
(64k VDC req'd)
|IBM 5150 PC (MS-DOS)||[ZIP]||[ZIP][TGZ]|
|IBM PCjr or Tandy 1000||[ZIP]||[ZIP][TGZ]|
|ZX Spectrum (RS232)||ZX Interface1 [TAP]
Plus systems [TAP]
|ZX Spectrum (Spectranet)||Spectranet users just need to type:
We not only provide a complete protocol specification, but also multiple complete implementations in C, as well as the source code to the above Atari PLATO cartridge.
More details in the TECH section.
To connect to IRATA.ONLINE, use the following connection information:
If you want to try the system, before your account is approved, you can log in with the following sign-on:
user name: guest
While this won't give you access to every part of the system (you will not be able to see users, or to use term-talk, for example), it will allow you to see the system, before your account is approved.
Shown here is a video providing an overview of IRATA.ONLINE, and its most basic and pervasive features. We log onto the system using both the PTERM and Atari clients, and walk through the various menus, showing quickly how notes (and personal notes) work, as well as show a quick glance of the games available, and a quick introduction to the unique programming environment available on PLATO systems.
The Protocol that IRATA.ONLINE uses is an ASCII based protocol developed for PLATO. it is ASCII in that it uses 7-bit characters and does not use the 8th bit of the byte. The protocol is completely documented in the "s0ascers" document, provided both below and accessible using either author mode or Go in the menu system. If you wish to make terminal software to access this service, this document is most useful.
To help foster adoption of the service, alongside the protocol implementation documentation above, and the pterm source code, also above. Steve Peltz also provided example implementations of a classic 68K Macintosh terminal (MacPAD) and a Sun SPARC terminal (XPad), both of these are sample implementations written in easy to understand C, that can be brought over to bootstrap other terminal program efforts. A big thank you to Steve Peltz.
While not needed, it is possible for PLATO terminals to receive code from IRATA and execute it locally, possibly while interacting with code running on IRATA. A Micro Tutor interpreter exists within PTerm 6.0, and thus can be used to run Micro-Tutor lessons, and with appropriate implementations on other processors (6502, 6809, 68000, etc.), Micro-TUTOR could be extended to a wide variety of retro-computing systems. Source code in assembly for the Z80 Micro-Tutor interpreter is below:
IRATA.ONLINE like all PLATO systems, utilizes the TUTOR language for the majority of its programs and lessons. It is a very simple language to learn, and is designed to leverage the unique aspects of the service. The editor, debugger, and visual editors needed to make excellent programs for this service, are all built in, and available to users that ask for an Author sign-on.
There is also the =0introtut= lesson available from the Help menu and in author mode, as well as the =aids= lesson, which serves as a reference guide.
In addition, the fine folks at bitsavers.org and control-data.info provided a copy of The Tutor Language in PDF format, so you can teach yourself TUTOR quickly!