Questions about the usefulness of microcomputers in 1980s Australia

Melanie Swalwell

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    Relatively cheap, low-end 8-bit machines were embraced by hobbyists interested in computing in the late 1970s and early 1980s. But what were these early computers good for? Opinion was split as to whether these early computers were useful, and what for. As early adopters, hobbyists were in the vanguard of inventing new uses for computers. To date, their pursuits have tended to be overlooked or dismissed as insignificant. This article focuses on consumption in the early microcomputing period and considers the Australian history of computing in terms of several interrelated questions about utility. Based on extensive archival research, it discusses doubts about the usefulness of these computers, the actual uses to which these micros were put, the invention of new uses by hobbyists and factors behind the change in perceptions of computers' usefulness in the latter part of the decade.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)63-77
    Number of pages15
    JournalMedia International Australia
    Issue number143
    Publication statusPublished - May 2012


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