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IRC History - PLANET
The Planning Network (PLANET) was the first ARPANET chat system, predating the Internet. PLANET was invented by Jacques Vallee, Roy Amara, Robert Johansen, and others from the Institute of the Future in 1973. It was the first chat program designed for the ARPANET, and enabled anybody on the network to log into the system. PLANET was used in a series of evaluation studies, and had a considerable influence on those that used it and later research.
Unlike some other conferencing systems, PLANET was originally designed for use by planners in government and industry, who were unlikely to have any previous computer experience, and so was designed from the beginning for maximum ease of use. For example, the commands were made as simple as possible, and the system was designed to be operated with just a few keys on a specially built portable telecommunications terminal. The PLANET application later evolved into the application Notepad, a global conferencing system that was used by a number of corporate clients such as Shell Oil.
As is somehow appropriate for someone that named his chat system "PLANET", Vallee later became involved in the field of UFO research and wrote a number of books on the phenomenon. However, his skepticism about the sometimes outlandish ideas of the mainstream UFO community made him an something of an outcast -- what he called a "heretic among heretics". His own ideas were much more complex -- he once said "I will be disappointed if UFOs turn out to be nothing more than spaceships."
Resources. The following references provide more information: