Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

Ex-CDA comments, suggestions, criticisms




Also perhaps not generally known, there were other significant spin-offs from the PLATO development : arguably the likes of Lotus Notes, chat rooms and even email all owe a debt to the PLATO development.

PLATO was way past my time at CDA and the little I’ve uncovered of its local impact is restricted to a few articles in Flash - always successes - but John Baxter’s interview with Tom Misa sheds some light on how the product was handled.

And just in case you haven’t seen PLATO in action for a while, the clipping above is from an unknown American newspaper dated 10 March, 1961, the day before Donald Bitzer’s first demonstrated PLATO to the upper echelons of the University of Illinois.

Bitzer and a co-developer Peter Braunfeld patented the concept a month later.

Not sure how the determined the birthdate, but a 50th birthday celebration (left) was held at the University of Illinois in March, 2010. Amongst other interesting comments, Bruanfeld (whose Jewish family fled from Vienna to London and eventually the U.S. In the early years of the war) suggested Illiac weighed about five tones - :that’s a ton per kilobyte of memory”

Download the complete PDF : Control Data Australia - PLATO

“WIRED FOR LEARNING. Don Bitzer, a project director for the PLATO project in automatic teaching aids tests equipment he used in first demonstrating of the system this weekend at Allerton House. The student indicates his response to a learning situation by punching buttons on the keyboard which is connected to Illiac by a long distance telephone wire”.

Maintaining the orange glow

External Links

WikiPedia (PLATO)

WikiPedia (Donald Bitzer)

CBI Oral Interview (Donald Bitzer) (interesting videos)

Claims not so 'exaggerated' 50 years after PLATO

YouTube : 50th anniversary

PLATO 1 terminal (1960)

PLATO II terminal (1961)   

PLATO III terminal (1963)

PLATO IV terminal (1972)


Born 428/427 BC, Athens, Greece

died 348/347 BC, Athens

December, 2018 sees some great Feedback from a U.S. correspondent who was involved with PLATO development at the University of Illinois and later in support and marketing roles with Control Data Corporation. His remarks give some remarkable insight (passed on by Donald Bitzer) on how a few beers at a local pub rescued the Oz PLATO launch at the Perth ACA Conference in 1976.

Our own research following up on some of Jim’s material reveals that Donald Bitzer’s wife, Maryanne also made a highly significant contribution to the eary success of PLATO.

Most will have either sold, used or seen PLATO - if not, you  almost certainly heard of it!

Firstly, we probably should explain just in case anyone is uncertain, although it was rarely disclosed, PLATO was not exactly the Greek philosopher, it was (like RIOTs, CARBINE, RIMFIRE, but not Ticket Issuing Terminals), an acronym -  PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations)

(Not, as Tony Bell recalls from his days as CDI manager at 71 Queens Road, “a Greek dish washing liquid” as some miscreant had written an a urinal wall)!

It may also be a surprise to many that were involved with it that it was a long, long way off being a new concept by the time CDA started marketing (I think around 1976), having its origins tracing back indirectly to the U.S.S.R’s successful launch of the Sputnik satellite in 1957 which put pressure on the U.S, Government to find alternate and cheaper means of education.

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