Task: Watch Atari Episodes of “Computer Chronicles” TV Show
Needed: Web Browser
Time: 1-2 hours
The “Computer Chronicles” TV show launched in 1983 at a local PBS station in California and quickly took off as word spread across the USA and people called up their local PBS affiliates to carry it. The show was created by Stewart Cheifet and ran until 2002 when it was cancelled due to lack of interest that resulted from computers being seen more as every day appliances than foreign technology. It was co-hosted through 1990 by Gary Kildall who invented the CP/M operating system among other things. Chronicles covered all aspects of computer hardware and technology and was very popular in throughout the 1980s and 1990s when computers were new and people craved information in the pre-internet era. I recall watching it on my local PBS station in Illinois when I was a teen. Unfortunately, Chronicles came along too late to cover much of the Atari 8-bit home computers. I list below some episodes featuring Atari that might be fun to watch. These have all been released to archive.org with permission of the copyright owners. The ones you see on YouTube were put there without permission. All of the early episodes are fun to watch. Many pioneering figures such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were interviewed.
Computer Games (1984) – features programmers Chris Crawford from Atari and Steve Kitchen from Activision. Chris Crawford has an Atari 800 with him. Steve Kitchen came armed with an Atari 2600.
Low End Computers (1985) – Features Atari CEO Jack Tramiel
Amiga and Atari (1985) – A comparison of the Commodore Amiga and the Atari 520 ST
Atari ST (1989) – A look at the cool features of the Atari ST
These are fun to watch. It is really too bad the show didn’t start a few years earlier. Had it started in 1980 it would have had episodes on the Atari 8-bit computers. I highly recommend the interview of Stewart Cheifet on the Floppy Days Podcast. He provides a lot of fun insight into how the show started and its history. All of these episodes are fun to watch. They provide a great perspective on what was hot in each year.