Journal Article

The archive and the scene: on the cultural techniques of retrocomputing databases


Anders Carlsson, Jörgen Rahm-Skågeby


Several digital spaces are now archiving artifacts from the first 1980s home computer boom. These spaces are not only storages, but also social venues and ‘memory banks’, and thereby depend on several concurrent practices: software and hardware developed to read, run, and preserve computer code; archiving of old software, magazines, and personal stories; contemporary conferences dedicated to retrocomputing; and making artifacts, which used to be private, publically available. The paper argues that retrocomputing can be seen as a foreshadowing in terms of managing collective digital archives, memories, and relationships to digital material. Taking the Commodore 64 Scene Database as a case, this paper 1) engages with both users and cultural techniques, in order to 2) theorize collective digital archives as ‘performative in-betweens’, and 3) discuss how retrocomputing may become a default mode for people seeking access to their digital pasts in a time when planned obsolescence is rampant.

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  • Type:
    Journal Article (peer reviewed)
  • Journal:
    New Media & Society, Vol 23, Issue 4.
  • Pages:
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About the Author

Jörgen Rahm-Skågeby

Rahm-Skågeby is an associate professor (docent) in media studies at Stockholm university. He holds a PhD in informatics geared towards interaction design and Human-Computer Interaction; a BSSc in information and media science (including behavioura... Read more


Carlsson, A. and Rahm-Skågeby, J. (2021). The archive and the scene: on the cultural techniques of retrocomputing databases. New Media & Society, 23(4), pp. 732-749. Available at: [Accessed 2 Oct. 2022]. doi: 10.1177/1461444820954186.