'Meet the computer addicts' with this BBC report from 1983 that makes my daily PC habits look pretty dire by comparison

A "computer addict" typing on a home computer at, err, home.
(Image credit: BBC Archive)

Back in the days of my youth, by which I mean 1983, literally four years before I was born, BBC's Newsnight released a short report detailing the habits of a new type of person entirely, what it then classified as "computer addicts". 

These were the beginnings of home computing, a time when something like the Commodore was just starting to become viable as a home computing platform that ordinary people—or in this case, unnecessarily demonised nerds of the finest quality—might keep in their spare room.

And now, thanks to the BBC archives, you too can revel in their glory (via Digital Trends). The report follows several of these forward-thinking pioneers as they talk about their daily usage of these mysterious "computers", including the revelation that one of them likes to spend his lunchtimes in the pub. 

Not to drink beer, like any self-respecting British citizen of the time, however, but to play videogames, even on his lunchbreak. You wouldn't catch me doing that sort of thing. No siree.

Chris Carter, a then operations manager in the computer department of a borough council office, is shown not only using his computer at work, doing useful things for the benefit of society, but also enjoying one in his free time as well. 

That being said, his wife seems to be less enamoured with the stresses and strains put upon their relationship by his hobby. Chris is said to put 20-40 hours a week behind the keyboard, and as a result his partner says she hardly sees him.

Those are rookie numbers, Chris. Rookie numbers.

Later we're introduced to businessman Graham Hawker, who, rather than enjoying what the voiceover identifies as a "bright and sunny day, just right for a stroll in the fresh air", is instead sat inside, enamoured with his latest videogame. Graham must locate a princess who's been abducted by a wizard, with his path being awkwardly blocked by a giant, and as a result has foregone the delights of an English summers day.

Nope, don't identify with that one either. Oh, who am I kidding. Let's hope Graham never discovered Civilisation 6, or there's a real danger we may never have seen him again.

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All joking aside, this is a fascinating look into the mindset of a generation just coming to terms with the idea that a computer might not just be a useful machine, but something that can become life absorbing, useful, and rewarding, too.

While computer addiction itself may well be a real thing, the subjects here seem less addicted and more immensely passionate about their machines, in a way that's immediately identifiable to PC enthusiasts today. It's a lovely insight into the past, and made me laugh like a drain more than once.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a giant to move. According to the piece, I can charm him with a harp, making this potentially the first example of a Let's Play guide. Rock on, you crazy cats. I reckon this home computer thing might eventually take off.

Andy Edser
Hardware Writer

Andy built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 12, when IDE cables were a thing and high resolution wasn't. After spending over 15 years in the production industry overseeing a variety of live and recorded projects, he started writing his own PC hardware blog for a year in the hope that people might send him things. Sometimes they did.

Now working as a hardware writer for PC Gamer, Andy can be found quietly muttering to himself and drawing diagrams with his hands in thin air. It's best to leave him to it.