1980s Radio Show Whose Guests Included Bill Gates, Gene Roddenberry And Douglas Adams Is Being Preserved 1
Image: @kaysavetz

Update [Tue 2nd Jul, 2024 10:45 BST]: The episode featuring Bill Gates and Kazuhiko Nishi (Microsoft Japan, MSX) is now live. It was originally broadcast on November 17th, 1984.

Original Story [Tue 11th Jun, 2024 13:30 BST]: Can you imagine a computer-focused radio show today which could count people like Trip Hawkins, Bill Gates, Gene Roddenberry, Herbie Hancock, Douglas Adams, Ray Bradbury and (reads notes) Donny Osmond as guests? Admittedly, that might be tricky as some of those people have sadly left us, but the point we're making is that it would be amazing – yet that's precisely what happened back in the '80s.

The Famous Computer Cafe ran between 1984 and 1986 and numbered more than 300 interviews. Hosted by Andrew Velcoff, Michael Walker, and Ellen Fead Hansen, the program included computer news, product reviews, and – of course – interviews.

Lke so many radio shows from the '80s, The Famous Computer Cafe was assumed lost – until Kay Savetz purchased 35 reel-to-reel tapes containing "roughly" 54 episodes. Savetz is now digitally preserving the tapes so they can be enjoyed for generations to come.

"To me, the most exciting thing about the show is the interviews," says Savetz. "The list of people that the show interviewed is a who's-who of tech luminaries of the early 1980s. Computer people, musicians, publishers, philosophers, journalists... IBM’s Philip Estridge, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Atari’s Jack Tramiel, MacPaint’s Bill Atkinson, Infocom’s Joel Berez, Star Trek’s Gene Roddenberry, musician Herbie Hancock, EA’s Trip Hawkins, Douglas Adams, Stewart Brand, Timothy Leary, Ray Bradbury, Robert Moog, Donny Osmond. The list goes on."

Savetz has set up a GoFundMe page to raise the money required for this considerable task. "I paid more than $1,000 for 35 reels and now need to pay for the digitizing. I just got word that there may be a few more tapes available, which will add to the expenses. The fundraising goal covers purchase of the tapes, shipping, and digitization. Only if funding exceeds that will I get paid for my time managing this project."

The fundraiser has already met its modest $4,750 target but is being kept open, as the scope of the project could expand if more tapes are found, as Savetz hints.

At the time of writing, eight episodes have been digitised and uploaded to The Internet Archive:

[source gofundme.com]