Precursors of the IT nation: computer use and control in Swedish society, 1955-1985

​The purpose of this research programme is to analyse how Swedish users of computers appropriated the new technology to extend their control of people and activities from 1955 to 1985, an era dominated by large mainframe computers.
Our emphasis on computer use contrasts with the focus on computer manufacturing in the existing international and Swedish historiography. Computer use is of importance to understand the foundations of the current information age, not least in a small nation like Sweden, which is often characterised as a prominent IT nation but lacks a strong domestic computer industry. We believe that there are important continuities, not least in the form of cumulative learning processes and traditions of early adoption.
The programme is organised around four subprojects dealing with the computerisation of government administration, private industry, defence and infrastructures. Within each subproject case studies deal with specific computer projects, mostly related to empirical material created in the documentation project ”From computing machine to IT”.
Mainframe computing was strongly associated with large organisations and complex projects, mostly carried out in collaborative efforts between a number of organizations, involving both suppliers and future users. This form of computing lent itself to rationalisation and centralisation, but also resulted in ambiguous outcomes and resistance from actors that did not benefit from computerisation.
Other project members
​Professor Arne Kaijser (research leader), Isabelle Dussauge, Johan Gribbe, Per Lundin, Julia Peralta, Björn Tholenius, (KTH)
​Handelsbankens forskningsstiftelser
​KTH and Chalmers

Published: Mon 28 Oct 2013.