The Macintosh Computer: Archetypal Capitalist Machine?
William Bowles

[The following text, written in 1987 and published by the small press magazine "PhotoStatic/Retrofuturism" in 1990, appears to be the first cultural critique of computer software. It has been republished lately by former PS/RF editor and Tape-beatle Lloyd Dunn within an electronic reprint of Retrofuturism No. 13. The reprint is part of the PS/RF "retrograde archive" ( and, Lloyd's ongoing effort to reconstruct all PS/RF back issues as well-crafted, scrupulously re-typeset PDF files.

For pre-digital net cultures in the late 1980s and early 1990s, PhotoStatic/Retrofuturism had a function similar to that of "Nettime" for digital net cultures since the mid-1990s. Drawing on situationism and copy art, its major focus was anti-copyright cultural activism and criticism in various media, including lunderphonics, Mail Art, and the Plagiarism/Art Strike campaigns. Among PS/RF's contributors were several people who later became involved in and digital net cultures (including ourselves).

While the following text may be somewhat bothersome in retrospect with its heavy Marxist jargon and ommonplaces, we find its core approach and insights still useful. It also happened to be an early source of I/O/D's historical trigger for a cultural critique of computer software.

-Florian Cramer/Matthew Fuller]

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keywords: criticism-capitalism-interface-marxist
category: text - software art related/cultural critique of software
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