One of the most important technological innovations of the 20th century has been the development and use of the highspeed computer. The introduction of microcomputers in the early 1970's resulted in the widespread dissemination of computers and knowledge of computer skills. For many of us, computers are an important part of our everyday lives, but until now, the extent of that involvement has been inferred only from sales data or personal observation. This Brief reports the results of the first national survey of computer access and use among children and adults, at school, at work, and at home. The information was collected in October 1984 in the Current Population Survey (CPS) under the sponsorship of the National Center for Education Statistics.
The data reported here serve as a reference point against which future changes in levels and patterns of computer use can be compared. One finding of this survey could portend a disturbing pattern. Access to computers among children was closely linked to family income, race, and education. For children at the lower end of the economic spectrum, lack of access to computers during their school years may further limit their employment opportunities as adults.