University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Computer-Based Education Research Laboratory | University of Illinois Archives

Name: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Computer-Based Education Research Laboratory


Historical Note:

Established in 1966 as a unit of the Graduate College, the Computer-Based Education Research Laboratory (CERL) engaged in the development and research of computer-based education and was organized into a Technical Systems Development Group to cooperate with PLATO, an Operating Group, and an Educational Development Group.1 Administrative jurisdiction of CERL was transferred from the Graduate College to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs effective February 1, 1973, because the PLATO system was considered well-developed and relevant to the entire campus.2 In February of 1970, a contract was negotiated with Control Data Corporation (CDC) to provide equipment and financial support for the PLATO system. CDC provided a 6400 computer system on a five year lease at a reduced rate, and with royalties paid to the University of Illinois for PLATO systems sold in certain quantity, in return for licensing to make and sell hardware and software innovations developed by the PLATO program.3 The contract was renewed with revisions in February of 19764 and in December of 1983, at which time a new computer system was to be provided.5 CDC was sold the exclusive rights to the PLATO and TUTOR trademarks in April of 1977.6 This exclusive agreement was terminated on March 12, 1983, with the recommendation that authors of PLATO software negotiate directly with publishers.7 Copyright articles of the General Rules Concerning University Organization and Procedure were revised in July, 1983, in order to reflect the needs of PLATO and other university programs.8 Companies given special licenses to manufacture or sell innovations developed by PLATO included Owens-Illinois, Electronic Information Systems, Carroll Manufacturing, and Global Information Systems Technology.9 University Communications Inc. was established in 1985 by CERL staff members as a profit business to market PLATO via new satellite technology.10 NOVANet became the primary system marketed by UCI. In 1993, the Budget Strategies Committee of the Urbana-Champaign Sendate formed a task group to find ways to eliminate state funding for CERL. A report issued in April 1993 outlined the task groups' plan to consolidate the operations of CERL with the Educational Technologies Assistance Group and the Educational Technologies Group.11 In July the Vice Chancellor for Research decided to transfer all rights over NOVANet to UCI and to close CERL.12 Contracts of CERL employees expired in July of 1994.13

1. Board of Trustees Transactions, 54th Report, July 19, 1966, pp. 8-9; Board of Trustees Transactions, 57th Report, January 17, 1973, p. 151.

2. Board of Trustees Transactions, 57th Report, January 17, 1973, p. 151.

3. Board of Trustees Transactions, 55th Report, February 18, 1970, pp. 794-5; June 17, 1970, p. 957.

4. Board of Trustees Transactions, 58th Report, February 18, 1976, pp. 527-30.

5. Board of Trustees Transactions, 62nd Report, July 21, 1983, pp. 318-20; January 19, 1984, pp. 455-6.

6. Board of Trustees Transactions, 59th Report, April 20, 1977, p. 259.

7. Board of Trustees Transactions, 62nd Report, March 17, 1983, pp. 180-1.

8. Board of Trustees Transactions, 62nd Report, July 21, 1983, pp. 304-5.

9. Board of Trustees Transactions, 56th Report, May 19, 1971, pp. 364-5; Ibid. 58th Report, July 17, 1974, p. 23; Ibid. 60th Report, October 20, 1978, p. 104; Ibid. 61st Report, January 14, 1982, p. 448.

10. Board of Trustees Transactions, 63rd Report,May 16, 1985, pp. 268-9.

11. "Interim Report of the CERL Task Group." Senate Minutes and Agenda. April 26, 1993/Item SC.93.37

12. Senate Minutes and Agenda. Meeting of September 13, 1994. Item SC 94.09.

13. The Champaign-Urbana News Gazette, July 13, 1993, p. A-13.






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