Rejection of learning how to code and the problem of ‘non-use’ in the history of computer cultures


  • Patryk Wasiak Institute of History, Polish Academy of Sciences


non-use, programming, computer culture, retroprogramming, computer literacy, LOGO, learn to code


This paper investigates how a host of social actors, such as computer science experts and educators, discursively constructed both positively valued ‘user-programmers’ and negatively valued ‚non-programmers,‘ that is computer users who reject the practice of writing programs on their computers. I argue that the central theme of such a strategy was user agency and the question of having control over the technology that one is using in everyday life. Firstly, I investigate two key themes of the discursive construction of non-programmers in the era of the microcomputer of the 1980s, the discourses towards economies and social development related to computer literacy programs, and next, the key role of programming as a developmental tool for children’s education. Later, I compare that historical era with the contemporary ‘learn to code’ movement and investigate how it outlines the disadvantages of the neglect of learning programming.


Patryk Wasiak, Institute of History, Polish Academy of Sciences

Dr., associate professor, Institute of History, Polish Academy of Sciences, holds MA titles in sociology and art history (Warsaw University) and PhD in cultural studies (Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities). Former fellow of the Volkswagen Foundation, the Center for Contemporary History Potsdam, the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Study, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. His research interests include the cultural history of the Cold War, history of home technologies and history of computing. Currently he works on the the history of amateur programming and neo-liberal  socioeconomic order in the 1980s. His current project is supported with a 4-year research grant from the National Science Centre of Poland. He has published articles in IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, International Journal of Communication, and History and Technology.





Wasiak, P. . (2023). Rejection of learning how to code and the problem of ‘non-use’ in the history of computer cultures. Medien & Zeit. Kommunikation in Vergangenheit Und Gegenwart, 38(1), 32–42. Abgerufen von