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Computer World

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Computer World
Studio album by
Released11 May 1981 (1981-05-11)
StudioKling Klang (Düsseldorf)
LabelKling Klang
Kraftwerk chronology
The Man-Machine
Computer World
Electric Café
Singles from Computer World
  1. "Pocket Calculator"
    Released: 21 April 1981[3]
  2. "Computer Love"
    Released: 29 June 1981
  3. "Numbers / Computer Love"
    Released: 1981 (US)
  4. "Computerwelt"
    Released: 1982 (Ger.)

Computer World (German: Computerwelt) is the eighth studio album by German electronic band Kraftwerk, released on 11 May 1981.[4] It was accompanied by four singles, including a double A-side UK no. 1 featuring "Computer Love".

The album is themed around computer technology and its rise within society. In keeping with the album's concept, Kraftwerk showcased their music on an ambitious world tour. As was the case with the two previous albums, Computer World was released in both German- and English-language editions.

Concept and recording[edit]

"We live in a computer world, so we made a song about it", said mastermind Ralf Hütter.[5] Computer World has been described as a futuristic conceptual work that predicts the presence of computer technology in everyday life. Featuring themes such as home computers and digital communication, the album has been seen as both a celebration of computer technology as well as a warning about its potential to exert power on society with social control and digital surveillance. Despite its theme, the production of the album was completely analogue and did not involve any computer technology.[6]


The cover shows a computer terminal (apparently based on the Hazeltine 1500)[7] displaying the heads of the four band members.

The inner sleeve artwork, created by Emil Schult and photographed by Günter Fröhling, depicts four slightly robotic-looking mannequins (representing the band members engaged in studio activities: performing, recording, mixing), similar to the artwork of the previous album, The Man-Machine, also created by Fröhling. In two photos, the mannequin representing Karl Bartos is seen playing a Stylophone, an instrument which is featured on the track "Pocket Calculator".


Computer World peaked at No.15 on the UK Albums Chart.[8] It was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on 12 February 1982 for shipments in excess of 60,000 copies.[9]

The track "Computer Love" was released as a seven-inch single in the UK, in June 1981, backed with "The Model", from the group's previous album The Man-Machine. The single reached No.36 in the charts. In December 1981 the two songs were reissued as a double A-side twelve-inch single, and reached No.1 on the UK Singles Chart in early February 1982, although "The Model" received the most airplay.

"Pocket Calculator" was released as a seven-inch single in the USA by Warner Brothers in 1981, pressed on a fluorescent yellow/lime vinyl, matching the color of the album cover. The flip side featured the Japanese version of "Pocket Calculator," "Dentaku".[10] “Pocket Calculator” charted at No.38 in the UK Singles Chart.

"Computerwelt" was remixed in 1982 as a dance version with additional bass and percussion sounds. It was released in January 1982 as a twelve-inch vinyl single only in Germany. The original track was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1982.[11] "Computer World" was also chosen by the BBC for use in the titles of their UK computer literacy project, The Computer Programme.

Kraftwerk issued several different versions of the single "Pocket Calculator" in different languages: namely, German ("Taschenrechner"), French ("Mini Calculateur"), and Japanese ("Dentaku", or 電卓). Also Italian version ("Mini Calcolatore") was performed playback in television.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Drowned in Sound10/10[12]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[13]
The Guardian[14]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[17]
The Village VoiceB[20]

Computer World was ranked the second best album of 1981 by NME.[21]

In 2012, Slant Magazine placed Computer World at No.25 on its list of the 100 best albums of the 1980s.[22] In 2018, Computer World was listed by Pitchfork as the 18th best album of the 1980s.[23] Pitchfork listed the track "Computer Love" as the 53rd best song of the 1980s.[24] Rolling Stone named Computer World the 10th greatest EDM album of all time in 2012.[25]

1981 Computer World tour[edit]

Following the release of the Computer World album, Kraftwerk went on a subsequent tour, that started on 24 May 1981 and ended on 14 December 1981.


Computer World maintains a distinct influence over subsequent releases across a multitude of genres; this influence is particularly noticeable in early and contemporary hip-hop and rap.

In 1982, American DJ and rapper Afrika Bambaataa wrote the song "Planet Rock" and recorded chords inspired from Trans-Europe Express. The song's lyrics also included the Japanese number counting "Ichi Ni San Shi" from Kraftwerk's "Numbers".

Cybotron's 1983 release "Clear", from the album Enter, contains multiple auditory elements of Computer World: the musical refrain closely resembles parts of "Home Computer" and "It's More Fun to Compute"; additionally, the track contains musical allusions to other Kraftwerk tracks.[26]

Señor Coconut y su Conjunto, an electronic project of German musician Uwe Schmidt which initially covered Kraftwerk's songs, published a merengue-styled version of "It's More Fun to Compute" on their first LP El Baile Alemán, wrongly labeled as "Homecomputer" on the sleeve.

Coldplay used the main riff from "Computer Love" in their song "Talk" from their 2005 album X&Y. La Roux used the main riff from "Computer Love" in their song "I'm Not Your Toy" from their self-titled debut album.

Ricardo Villalobos's track "Lugom-IX" from the 2006 album Salvador prominently uses the riff from "Computer World".

Fergie's track "Fergalicious", from her 2006 debut album The Dutchess, borrows heavily from two tracks on Computer World: the opening synth line from "It's More Fun to Compute", as well as the rhythmic component of J.J. Fad's "Supersonic", as the latter track's beat is based upon the Computer World track "Numbers".[27] Arabian Prince, the co-producer of "Supersonic", has been vocal about his admiration of Kraftwerk.[28]

"Home Computer" is used as background music in the Young Sheldon episode "A Computer, a Plastic Pony, and a Case of Beer".

LCD Soundsystem took "Home Computer" throughout the track Disco Infiltrator.

DJ Hooligan (Da Hool) sampled The Mix version of "Home Computer" for the Underground and Cursed remix of the song "Scatman's World" by Scatman John.

Beck took sounds from it and played "Home Computer" live.[29][30]

Neil Young's 1983 electronic album Trans was influenced by Computer World.

Ulf Ekberg of Ace of Base, when asked what brought him to music, if he had to boil it down to one reason, responded with: "In one word: Kraftwerk. Once Kraftwerk released their 1981 album Computerwelt it all became clear to me: they showed the world that you can combine music with technology and be successful with it — and that was exactly what I wanted to do."[31]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
1."Computer World" ("Computerwelt")5:05
2."Pocket Calculator" ("Taschenrechner")
  • Hütter
  • Schult
  • Hütter
  • Bartos
3."Numbers" ("Nummern") 
  • Hütter
  • Schneider
  • Bartos
4."Computer World 2" ("Computerwelt 2") 
  • Hütter
  • Schneider
  • Bartos
Side two
5."Computer Love" ("Computerliebe")
  • Hütter
  • Schult
  • Hütter
  • Bartos
6."Home Computer" ("Heimcomputer")Schneider
  • Hütter
  • Schneider
  • Bartos
7."It's More Fun to Compute" 
  • Hütter
  • Schneider
  • Bartos
Total length:34:27
  • The German Version of "Computer World 2" is 12 seconds shorter and contains a different mix from the 2:30 minute mark.


The original 1981 sleeve notes are relatively unspecific regarding roles, merely listing all the equipment suppliers and technicians under the heading "Hardware" and the various other people involved, such as photographers, as "Software".[32] By contrast, the 2009 remastered edition notes list the performer credits as the following:[33]



  • Ralf Hütter – mixing, cover, original artwork reconstruction, album concept, production
  • Florian Schneider – mixing, cover, album concept, production
  • Peter Bollis – hardware
  • Hermann J. Poertner – hardware
  • Gerd Rothe – hardware
  • Pit Franke – software
  • Karl Klefisch – software
  • Falk Kübler – software
  • Takeshi Shikura – software
  • Martin Tewis – software
  • Carol Martin – software
  • Tom Lanik – software
  • Doreen D'Agostino – software
  • Marvin Katz – software
  • Bob Krasnow – software
  • Günter Spachtholz – software
  • Joachim Dehmann – software
  • Emil Schult – cover
  • Günter Fröhling – photos
  • Johann Zambryski – original artwork reconstruction



Certifications for Computer World
Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[9] Silver 60,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ a b Raggett, Ned. "Computer World – Kraftwerk". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  2. ^ Warwick, Oli (10 May 2017). "The sample legacy of Computer World, Kraftwerk's most influential album". The Vinyl Factory. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  3. ^ "Music Week" (PDF).
  4. ^ "New Musical Express". NME. London. 17 April 1982. p. 39. ISSN 0028-6362.
  5. ^ "Legendary Work". 2022.
  6. ^ Schütte, Uwe "Computerwelt (1981)" German Pop Music: A Companion Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG, 2017
  7. ^ "Computer World cover".
  8. ^ a b "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  9. ^ a b "British album certifications – Kraftwerk – Computer World". British Phonographic Industry. 12 February 1982. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  10. ^ Pocket Calculator (7" single). Kraftwerk. Warner Bros. Records. 1981. WBS 49723.{{cite AV media}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  11. ^ "24th Annual Grammy Awards Final Nominations". Billboard. Vol. 94, no. 3. New York. 23 January 1982. p. 90. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  12. ^ Power, Chris (14 October 2009). "Album Review: Kraftwerk – Computer World: Remastered". Drowned in Sound. Archived from the original on 10 July 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
  13. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "Kraftwerk". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  14. ^ Sweeting, Adam (14 April 1995). "CDs of the week: Kraftwerk reissues". The Guardian. London. ISSN 0261-3077.
  15. ^ Snow, Mat (November 2009). "Gut Vibrations". Mojo. No. 192. London. p. 110. ISSN 1351-0193.
  16. ^ "Kraftwerk: Computer World". Q. No. 104. London. May 1995. p. 123. ISSN 0955-4955.
  17. ^ Coleman, Mark; Randall, Mac (2004). "Kraftwerk". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 468–69. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  18. ^ Harrison, Andrew (June 1995). "Kraftwerk: Radio Activity / Man Machine / Computer World / The Mix". Select. No. 60. London. ISSN 0959-8367.
  19. ^ Cavanagh, David (16 October 2009). "Uncut reviews: Kraftwerk – Reissues". Uncut. London. ISSN 1368-0722. Archived from the original on 5 December 2010. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  20. ^ Christgau, Robert (2 November 1981). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. ISSN 0042-6180. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  21. ^ "1981 Best Albums And Tracks Of The Year". NME. 10 October 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  22. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of the 1980s". Slant Magazine. 5 March 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  23. ^ "The 200 Best Albums of the 1980s". Pitchfork. 10 September 2018. p. 10. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  24. ^ "The 200 Best Songs of the 1980s". Pitchfork. 24 August 2015. p. 8. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
  25. ^ Dolan, Jon; Matos, Michaelangelo (2 August 2012). "The 30 Greatest EDM Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  26. ^ Ben, Cardew. "SOLID GOLD: THE REMARKABLE INFLUENCE OF DETROIT TECHNO'S FIRST ALBUM, 'ENTER' BY CYBOTRON". DJ Mag. Thrust Publishing Ltd. Archived from the original on 3 December 2021. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
  27. ^ Kyle, Munzenrieder. "How "Fergalicious" Is the Perfect Example of Kraftwerk's Huge Influence on Music". W Magazine. Women's Wear Daily. Archived from the original on 4 January 2022. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
  28. ^ Ferguson, Kevin. "Love old school hip-hop? Thank Kraftwerk". 89.3 KPCC. Southern California Public Radio (SCPR). Archived from the original on 4 January 2022. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
  29. ^ "Beck Track". WhoSampled. 1999.
  30. ^ "Beck Track II". YouTube. 2016.
  31. ^ "Roots Music". 2016.
  32. ^ Computer World (LP liner notes). Kraftwerk. EMI. 1981. EMC 3370.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  33. ^ Computer World (remastered CD liner notes). Kraftwerk. Mute Records. 2009. CDSTUMM 307.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  34. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 170. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  35. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Kraftwerk – Computerwelt" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  36. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Kraftwerk – Computerwelt" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  37. ^ "Charts.nz – Kraftwerk – Computer World". Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  38. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Kraftwerk – Computer World". Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  39. ^ "Kraftwerk Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  40. ^ "Kraftwerk Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  41. ^ "Top 100 Album-Jahrescharts – 1981" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 20 December 2021.

External links[edit]