Computer Chronicles on 1980s Gaming

Nearly every episode of Computer Chronicles, the influential and long-running television series, is freely available on the Internet Archive. If you browse by year, you can find plenty of classic geek nostalgia dating back to 1984. A few of my favorites are below.

Computer Games, February 1984. Steve Kitchen demos Activision’s Space Shuttle, the most complex Atari 2600 game ever created and the only one to reprogram all of its switches. Electronic Arts’ Bill Budge shows off the classic Pinball Construction Set for the Apple II, while EA/3DO founder Trip Hawkins shows off Dr. J and Larry Go One on One, the game that paved the way for EA Sports.

Computer Games, January 1985. The authors of Sargon and Millionaire demo them on the original Mac, and talks to Pitfall creator David Crane about Ghostbusters and David Lebling discusses Zork and other text-based adventure games. The short piece on the fledgling Lucasarts (then named Lucasfilm) is great, which had just released its first two games a few months before, the groundbreaking Rescue on Fractalus and Ballblazer.

Software Piracy, January 1985. A spirited debate between an Activision exec against a developer of a cracking utility, a surreal interview with John “Cap’n Crunch” Draper taking an anti-piracy stance, and a demonstration by the pseudonymous “Frankie Mouse” of a pirate BBS on a 300 baud modem. (Look at that text scroll!)

Operating Systems, 1984. The big highlight is Bruce Tognazzini, then an Apple engineer, shrinking himself to give a guided tour inside an Apple IIe.

The “Random Access” news segment at the end of each show is also entertaining, if you haven’t had enough geekery. I’ve only watched a fraction of the episodes so far, so post a comment if you find any particularly good moments.


    I remember the Computer Bowl episodes being quite entertaining, but I haven’t been able to download any of them successfully yet. The Bowl was an annual trivia-quiz-type competition between East Coast and West Coast computer industry bigwigs. Bill Gates took part at least once.

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