Journal Article

Crosscurrents in ‘micro’ marketing: home computers and media genealogy



From the late 1970s to the mid 1980s, many countries experienced a ‘home computer boom’. The ‘home computer’ (or ‘micro’ as it was colloquially referred to) had become a viable marketing concept because companies, having developed advanced and expensive machines for business, science and engineering applications, now identified a new market segment for more affordable, accessible, and less advanced single-user ‘home computers’. The domestication of the computer is, naturally, an interesting phase in media history revealing intermedialities, continuities, and disruptions in the development of digital culture. By analysing home computer marketing as it appears from 1981 to 1985 in magazine advertisements, this paper argues that we can come to a better understanding of the mutually transformative relation between the inherently technical design and language of software and hardware engineering and the ideological and cultural language of computerisation. The key research question for this paper is:

> How was the inherently technical language, and indeed material operations, of software and hardware engineering transcoded into marketing concepts? Or, in other words, how was human agency and technological agency negotiated through the visual language of marketing?

Answering this question will provide insights into how the impending computerisation of society started to take place at an ideological and semiotic level, which in turn is underpinned by the material capacities of media technologies. As a result, the paper identifies three tentative ‘crosscurrents’ where materialities, agencies and discourses are negotiated.

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  • Type:
    Journal Article (peer reviewed)
  • Journal:
    Artnodes: Journal on Art, Science and Technology, Issue 21.
  • 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


Rahm-Skågeby, J. (2018). Crosscurrents in ‘micro’ marketing: home computers and media genealogy. Artnodes: Journal on Art, Science and Technology, (21), pp. 127-135. Available at: [Accessed 30 Nov. 2022]. doi: 10.7238/a.v0i21.3176.