8146.0 - Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 1996  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/11/1997   
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November 14, 1997
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
Take-up rate for modem and internet use low

Of the estimated 4 million home computer users only 300,000 (7.5 per cent) accessed the Internet, 200,000 (5 per cent) used electronic mail, and 100,000 (2.5 per cent) accessed other online services/databases according to the survey Household Use of Information Technology released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The highest proportion of home computer users were the 5-17 year olds (41 per cent) , followed by the 18-24 year olds (29 per cent), 25-39 year olds (23 per cent), 40-54 year olds (25 per cent), and persons 55 years and over, (7 per cent).
Home computer users (who were 18 years and over) were more likely to be males in a professional occupation, who use computers at work and who have used computers for several years, however they were just as likely to be overseas born as Australian born.

Households in the Territories showed highest use of computers, with the (ACT 51 per cent and Northern Territory 35 per cent) followed by Victoria 34 per cent, New South Wales 30 per cent, South Australia and Western Australia 29 per cent each, Queensland 28 per cent, and Tasmania 25 per cent.
Other findings based on the sample survey include:
  • Two million (31 per cent) Australian households frequently used a computer. A further 3 per cent of households (nearly 190,000) had a computer, but did not use it frequently.
  • These 2 million households used 2.6 million computers. Nearly 1.6 million households used 1 computer, and only 0.4 million households used 2 or more computers. Over 0.5 million households had a modem, and nearly 1 million households had CD-ROM equipment.
  • Of these 2.6 million computers, 81 per cent were owned by household members, and 15 per cent by a home based business or an employer. Most (81 per cent) computers were desktop or personal computers, while 14 per cent were portable computers.
  • Over half the households reported that their most powerful computer had an IBM compatible 486 processing capacity or greater, and about one in five reported their most powerful computer had more than 16 megabytes of RAM.
  • The major reasons why 4.4 million households didn't have computing facilities were, 'no use for one' (40 per cent ), 'costs are too high' (30 per cent), and 'no one in household interested in computer' (14 per cent).
  • Those employed professionally were more likely to use the use a computer at home 48 per cent, followed by managers and administrators (32 per cent), clerks (26 per cent), and sales/personal service workers (25 per cent).

Copies of the publication Household Use of Information Technology (cat. no. 8146.0) are available from ABS Bookshops.