IRATA.ONLINE - An on-line service for Retrocomputing Enthusiasts!

Y'know, other stuff, Sinclair related.
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tschak909
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IRATA.ONLINE - An on-line service for Retrocomputing Enthusiasts!

Post by tschak909 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:49 am

Hello everyone,

I had posted this on World of Spectrum, months ago, not aware that this forum also existed, so... to explain what I have here:

( the website is here: http://www.irata.online )

IRATA.ONLINE is a multi-user on-line service specifically aimed at the retro-computing community, much in the vein of QuantumLink or similar services. It's graphical, and supports touch screen and pointing devices, and is based on the legendary PLATO system. (wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PLATO_(computer_system)

PLATO itself was a system that ran from some form from 1962 until 2015, but its peak years were during the late 1970s, during which, so many innovations that we take for granted were developed there, ranging from the flat screen touch panel display, to forums, to graphical multi-player games, and more.

IRATA.ONLINE itself contains a complete set of PLATO software as it was distributed by Control Data for its large customers, some 16,000 pieces of educational software, with subjects ranging from high school biology, to (and I kid you not) "how to operate a nuclear reactor"

It not only offers lessons and multi-user games, but it also provides forums, multi-user chat, as well as a complete software development environment baked into the system so that users can create new games, lessons; applications that can all be shared by all of the users of the system.

I have been working on this project for over a year, spending my time not only administering the system, but also writing new terminals for a wide variety of systems, some below, as well as trying to drum up interest in the service and foster a community around this system.

Some of the available and soon to be available terminals:

* Modern PCs (Linux, Windows, Mac)
* Atari 800
* Apple II
* Commodore 64
* Commodore 128 (uses the VDC)
* TI 99/4A (soon)
* Atari ST
* Commodore Amiga
* PC
* ZX Spectrum
* Amstrad CPC (soon) !!!
* MSX
* Coleco ADAM (soon)
* BBC Micro (soon)
* Sharp X68000 (soon)
* Sinclair QL (soon)
* more...

This is all possible, because the terminal itself is written in very highly portable C, and I have been able to port it very quickly to many different targets, and am able to do them all in parallel.

About the ZX Spectrum PLATO terminal:

* Supports ZX Spectrums with at least 48K of RAM
* Supports Spectranet, Interface 1, and + series RS232 ports for connectivity.
* Supports ZX Printer for hard copy.

It can be downloaded here:
https://github.com/tschak909/platotermz ... TERMZX_1_2

Here is a demo video of it running over Spectranet:


If you're interested, you can try out the system using a guest account, and then sign up on the website, if you're interested.

This is something I am doing on my own time, and on my own dime, to provide a comprehensive on-line service for retro computers of all shapes and sizes, I hope you all enjoy it, as much as I do, making it.

-Thom
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Ralf
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Re: IRATA.ONLINE - An on-line service for Retrocomputing Enthusiasts!

Post by Ralf » Mon Jan 14, 2019 12:01 pm

I'm not sure if I understand it.
Is it some kind of multi-platform emulator or rather some online community?

What are these "terminals"? Can you connect a real Spectrum to this service?
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tschak909
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Re: IRATA.ONLINE - An on-line service for Retrocomputing Enthusiasts!

Post by tschak909 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:29 pm

It's an online community, that can be connected to by a huge number of different computer systems, both contemporary and retro.

Since the system uses a specific protocol (PLATO), all of the different systems needed a terminal to allow them to connect, (called PLATOTerm), which I provide in both source code and binary form, on the website.

Yes, real spectrums have been connecting to the service, for months, now, both via Spectranet, and via the two major RS-232 connection standards available for the Spectrum (IF1 and +), an IRATA user has written an extensive set of instructions on his blog:

https://8bitecho.weebly.com/blog/plato- ... abbit-hole
https://8bitecho.weebly.com/zx-spectrum.html

-Thom
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Ralf
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Re: IRATA.ONLINE - An on-line service for Retrocomputing Enthusiasts!

Post by Ralf » Mon Jan 14, 2019 4:05 pm

Ok, I suppose I get it.

So you are basically having your own, independent, simple, little internet + operational system ;) With own network protocol and very oldschool display that would work on most old machines.

It was once commercial and designed for educational online courses and you still have these courses available but during years became something bigger with games and forums.

Out of curiosity:

- when using Zx Spectrum as terminal, do you have to load some software first? Is there any download of it?
- do you have many (or any :twisted: ) active users in your system?
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tschak909
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Re: IRATA.ONLINE - An on-line service for Retrocomputing Enthusiasts!

Post by tschak909 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 4:09 pm

Yes, the software is available on the website. If you're using Spectranet, it can even be loaded off the internet directly.

I have over 530 signed up users, and since this is very early on, not very many users online, but I am constantly promoting and scheduling social meets (usually via Google Hangouts) to try and foster a community development.

-Thom
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tschak909
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Re: IRATA.ONLINE - An on-line service for Retrocomputing Enthusiasts!

Post by tschak909 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 4:22 pm

There is also a recording of my most recent lecture, which I gave at VCF Midwest, in October. Stay until the end, and you'll see a multi-platform screen share across 5 different platforms, on the system. :)

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PeterJ
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Re: IRATA.ONLINE - An on-line service for Retrocomputing Enthusiasts!

Post by PeterJ » Mon Jan 14, 2019 5:45 pm

tschak909 wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:49 am
Hello everyone,

I had posted this on World of Spectrum, months ago, not aware that this forum also existed, so...
Please mention us to your friends and other Spectrum fans if possible.
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Re: IRATA.ONLINE - An on-line service for Retrocomputing Enthusiasts!

Post by llewelyn » Wed Jan 23, 2019 11:25 pm

It sounds like a fascinating enterprise and I wish you well, anything that helps to link people and their ideas is a good thing, the more the merrier.

I'm astonished that this system wasn't more widely promoted, I have never heard of it not that that means very much as I'm not as well informed as I should be. Its the graphics that I find intriguing because I ran a BBS in the early 80's running Wildcat! and we were plagued by those blocky low resolution CGA graphics which were nothing like what your video shows, though one or two software concerns did try BBS software utilizing the monochrome high resolution mode that IBM PC's reserved for doing CAD work with.

I'm using an emulator not a Sinclair machine so I don't know if it will work with your terminal software perhaps I'll give it a try later.
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tschak909
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Re: IRATA.ONLINE - An on-line service for Retrocomputing Enthusiasts!

Post by tschak909 » Thu Jan 24, 2019 7:34 am

I developed the ZX Spectrum version of the software using FUSE, and its Spectranet emulation.

Another IRATA.ONLINE user worked with me to make sure that the serial port routines worked with both the Interface 1 and + RS232 ports.

So it should work fine in Fuse, especially if you've properly set up Spectranet.

-Thom
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