The Last Democratic Computer - A historical study of the end of the home computer era, and the end of computational literacy

Name of applicant

Jesper Juul


Royal Danish Academy - Architecture, Design, Conservation


DKK 96,000



Type of grant

Field Trips / Research Stays < 100,000


Should computers teach us how to program? At MIT, I will examine the big shift from home computers like the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum, designed to teach us the BASIC programming language, to later computers with graphical interfaces, Amigas, PCs and Macintoshes, where the working of the computer is hidden to the user. I focus on the Commodore 64 home computer, launched in 1982. This is considered the best-selling home computer of all time, and the last popular computer assuming that its users would program it themselves. Studying the hardware, software, and culture around the C64, I study how technology became black boxed to us. Can the history of computing then teach us how to make contemporary technology – including AI and machine learning - more democratic and transparent?

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