This next Computer Chronicles episode focuses squarely on people rather than products. The formal subject is “computer entrepreneurs.” And the four guests are people who were all quite well known in the computer industry during the early 1980s. What’s fascinating, as we’ll see a bit later, is that two of the guests had ventures that each managed to flame out not long after this episode aired. “I Had Been Working My Whole Life to Build a Certain Type of Computer for Myself.
When Apple released the Macintosh–later known as the Macintosh 128K–in January 1984, its main selling point was the graphical user interface (GUI). Although the original Macintosh operating system’s GUI was largely based on what Apple deployed on the Lisa a year earlier, the company believed the new machine’s lower price point would make the interface more accessible to a larger audience. Of course, the Macintosh was not exactly cheap, even by 1984 personal computer standards.
Even if you’re only a casual gamer, there are probably a few video game designers whose names you’re familiar with, such as Sid Meier, Todd Howard, and Shigeru Miyamoto. From the early days of computer gaming, there was a concerted effort to promote certain “superstar” designers to help personalize and sell games to the public. This next episode of The Computer Chronicles featured three such designers from the early 1980s, as well as an executive whose name would become synonymous with computer and video game production in the decades that followed.
The episode I’m covering today taped on January 18, 1984, which was four days before Super Bowl XVIII. That game would go down in computing history for the famous Apple “1984” commercial that announced the launch of the original Macintosh (later known as the Macintosh 128K). As this Chronicles episode aired the week after the Super Bowl, Stewart Cheifet devoted a good portion of the post-show “Random Access” segment to the new machine and what it might mean for Apple for the rest of 1984.
There was apparently a roughly two-month gap between the taping of episodes of The Computer Chronicles in late 1983 and their initial airing in early 1984. Looking back 37 years later, this gap may not seem that significant. But in just the second broadcast episode, it may be that Chronicles unintentionally provided information that was already out-of-date to its PBS audience. Integrated Software — The Descendants of Xerox The subject of this episode was “integrated software,” i.