The Computer Chronicles was an American television series, broadcast during 1981-2002 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. The series was created in the Fall of 1981, by Stewart Cheifet (later co-host), then the station manager of the College of San Mateo's KCSM-TV (which co-produced the show with Harrisburg, PA's WITF-TV), initially broadcast as a local weekly series. Jim Warren was its founding host for its 1981-1982 season. It aired continuously from 1981 to 2002 with Cheifet co-hosting most of its later seasons. Gary Kildall served as co-host for six years (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.
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 section which gave the viewer the latest computer news from the home and business markets. Stewart Chiefet, Janelle Stelson and various other individuals presented the segment. Random Access was discontinued in 1997.
Despite performing well in the ratings in the United States and being broadcast throughout the world, the Computer Chronicles was cancelled in 2002. Almost all episodes of Computer Chronicles have been made available for free download at the Internet Archive. Many episodes of the show have been dubbed into other languages including Arabic, French and Spanish.