Computer Chronicles

Computer Chronicles was an American half-hour television series, broadcast from 1983 to 2002[1] on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) public television, which documented the rise of the personal computer from its infancy to the immense market at the turn of the 21st century.

Computer Chronicles
Computer Chronicles logo from the early 1990s
Created byStewart Cheifet
Presented byGary Kildall
Jim Warren
Stewart Cheifet
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)Stewart Cheifet
Running time30 minutes
Original networkPBS
Original release1983 

History and overview

The series was created in 1983[2] by Stewart Cheifet (later the show's co-host), who was then the station manager of the College of San Mateo's KCSM-TV. The show was initially broadcast as a local weekly series. The show was co-produced by WITF-TV in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It became a national series on PBS from fall 1983. Jim Warren was the show's founding host for the 1981–1982 season. It aired continuously from 1981 to 2002, with Cheifet co-hosting most of the later seasons. Gary Kildall served as co-host from 1983 to 1990, providing insights and commentary on products, as well as discussions on the future of the ever-expanding personal computer sphere.

During the 1980s, the show had many supporting presenters, including:

  • George Morrow: Presenter and commentator who for a time headed the Morrow Design company, Morrow was a well-known face on the Chronicles until the 1990s. Morrow died in 2003.
  • Paul Schindler: Featured predominantly in software reviews, Schindler contributed to the series until the early 1990s.
  • Wendy Woods: Provided reports for many software and hardware products, as well as talking with the main presenters in the studio about specific topics.
  • Janelle Stelson: presented the news and reviews segment.[3][4][5]

The Computer Chronicles format remained relatively unchanged throughout its run, except perhaps with the noticeable difference in presenting style; originally formal, it evolved into a more relaxed, casual style. From 1984 onward the last five minutes or so featured Random Access, a segment that gave the viewer the latest computer news from the home and business markets. Stewart Cheifet, Janelle Stelson, Maria Gabriel and various other individuals presented the segment. Random Access was discontinued in 1997. The Online Minute, introduced in 1995 and lasting until 1997, gave the viewers certain Web sites that dealt with the episode's topic. It featured Giles Bateman, who designed the show's "Web page" opening sequence that was used from that period up until the show's end.

The graphics were changed in 1989, and the show was renamed "Computer Chronicles", omitting the word "The". The graphics were redesigned again in 1995, with the "Web page" graphics designed by Giles Bateman, and redesigned again in 1998 to show clips from the show in a "multiple window" format.

The theme tune used from 1990 till the show's end was Zenith, composed by John Manchester.

Another feature on the show was Stewart's "Pick of the Week", in which he detailed a popular piece of software or gadget on the market that appealed to him and might appeal to the home audience.

Computer Bowl, cast the East Coast against the West Coast, with Bill Gates, John Doerr, Stewart Alsop, Mitch Kapor, Bob Frankston and Bill Joy.

From 1994 to 1997, the show was produced by PCTV, based in New Hampshire in cooperation with KCSM-TV. Starting in the Fall of 1997 and continuing to its end, the show was produced by KTEH San Jose and Stewart Cheifet Productions.

Despite receiving adequate ratings in the United States and being broadcast throughout the world, Computer Chronicles was cancelled in 2002. Almost all episodes of Computer Chronicles have been made available for free download at the Internet Archive and many are available on YouTube. Many episodes of the show have been dubbed into other languages, including Arabic, French and Spanish.

See also


  1. " Computer Chronicles". Retrieved December 17, 2014.
  2. " Computer Chronicles". 22 October 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  3. "News Team - WGAL News 8". WGAL. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  4. "Life Fully Lived: Celebrity in MY House--Janelle Stelson". 19 April 2010. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  5. " Computer Chronicles". 22 October 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
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