Reading: De domesticatie van de computer in Nederland 1975-1990


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De domesticatie van de computer in Nederland 1975-1990


Frank Veraart

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Dutch computer domestication, 1975-1990

A computer seems an indispensable tool among twenty-first century households. Computers however, did not come as manna from heaven. The domestication and appropriation of computers in Dutch households was a result of activities by various intermediary actors. Computers became household commodities only gradually. Technophile computer hobbyists imported the first computers into the Netherlands from the USA, and started small businesses from 1975 onwards. They developed a social network in which computer technology was made available for use by individuals. This network extended itself via shops, clubs, magazines, and other means of acquiring and exchanging computer hard- and software. Hobbyist culture established the software-copying habits of private computer users as well as their ambivalence to commercial software. They also made the computer into a game machine. Under the impulse of a national policy that aimed at transforming society into an ‘Information Society’, clubs and other actors extended their activities and tailored them to this new agenda. Hobby clubs presented themselves as consumer organizations and transformed into intermediary actors that filled the gap between suppliers and a growing group of users. They worked hard to give meaning to (proper) use of computers. A second impulse to the increasing use of computers in the household came from so-called ‘private-PC’ projects in the late 1980s. In these projects employers financially aided employees in purchasing their own private PCs’. The initially important intermediary actors such as hobby clubs lost control and the agenda for personal computers was shifted to interoperability with office equipment. IBM compatible PC’s flooded the households. In the household the new equipment blended with the established uses, such as gaming. The copying habits together with the PC standard created a risky combination in which computer viruses could spread easily. New roles arose for intermediary actors in guiding and educating computer users. The activities of intermediaries had a lasting influence on contemporary computer use and user preferences. Technical choices and the nature of Dutch computer use in households can be explained by analyzing the historical developments of intermediaries and users.

How to Cite: Veraart, F., 2008. De domesticatie van de computer in Nederland 1975-1990. Studium, 1(2), pp.145–164. DOI:
Published on 01 Jun 2008.
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