In the 1980s, as the market for computing in the home was still emerging, a category of software arose that promised computer‐mediated experiences of romance and sex. These programs, which this essay is calling “romance software,” drew on popular psychological and therapeutic discourses to offer couples advice for more satisfying relationships while also managing their interactions with the computer as an intimate or romantic activity. This essay argues that romance software employed the then novel home computer as a tool that could help mediate relational and communication ideals and bolster the heterosexual couple in the context of changing expectations for relationships in the 1980s. Romance software attempted to instantiate computing intimacy — referring not only to the application of computational methods to the management of relationships but also to the romantic or erotic experience of a couple using computers together. Although they amounted to a minor subset of the software introduced during the decade, these programs envisioned computing in the home as a technology to mediate companionate relationships. Romance software demonstrates that some software companies in the 1980s conceived of personal computer users not only as abstracted masculine individuals but rather addressed users within their roles in companionate relationships, in this case as part of a couple. These programs proposed methods through which computing could be used to assist in creating better relationships for couples that had adopted computers into their homes.

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