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back to article Canadian family gives up modern tech to live like it's 1986

Disappointed that their children seemed to enjoy using iPhones and iPads more than playing outdoors, a couple in Guelph, Ontario, Canada has chosen to spend a year using only technology invented before 1986. Photo of Blair McMillan and Morgan Patey of Guelph, Canada Deprived of iPads, a Canadian family experiences an atavistic …

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Unhappy

iPhone and iPad?

Who buys an iPhone and iPad for a two year old? I didn't even get Lego until I was six.

And why no CDs? CDs are are 70s development.

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Re: iPhone and iPad?

Didn't get Lego till you were 6, gosh you must have been deprived.

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Anonymous Coward

The guy is only 26?

I thought mullets and moustaches had gone out of fashion.

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Anonymous Coward

May I humbly suggest

That you take a trip through the 'Red-Neck' areas of the US. There are people who think that 'The Dukes of Hazard' is the latest TV series.

I had the misfortune to spend a month in rural Arkansas last year. 1980's living is the norm there.

Just don't argue or stare too long at the locals. They usually have a rack of rifles/shotguns in their pickups.

Mullets abound. Mullets + Tashes are 10 a penny.

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Re: iPhone and iPad?

Who buys an iPhone and iPad for a two year old? I didn't even get Lego until I was six.

And why no CDs? CDs are are 70s development.

Why so dramatic? Obviously the two-year old hasn't taken out a 18-month contract on an iPhone...

Kids are naturally curious - they see mum and dad using gadgets and learn by osmosis. Big deal.

Schoolkids are carrying their schoolbooks in ebook format on tablets these days, so you're pretty out of touch if you think you can shelter them from technology.

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Re: iPhone and iPad?

I had both an Apple II and an Atari 800 computer in 1981. Plus a pile of CD's. I'd suggest this family jump back another couple of decades.

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Perhaps

He had a Lebanese paper round? dosnt look too happy either

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Re: iPhone and iPad?

@mahatma - "And why no CDs? CDs are are 70s development."

Audio CDs were not commercially released until 1982 in Germany, and not until March, 1983 in most of the rest of the European market and in North America. The first CD to sell 1 million copies was Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits in 1985. It took until 1988 before the majority of American retail music was finally being produced on CD.

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Re: iPhone and iPad?

Mullet people did not discovered the CD before the 90's...

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Re: iPhone and iPad?

@Andy Prough

I'd be okay with that. By coincidence I was just listening to Dire Straits playing Brothers in Arms - downloaded from Youtube. I could live with pre-86 music (some might say most of the best music was pre-86!). In fact I've found more 70's - 80's music on Youtube in the last six months than in the previous 30 years...

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Re: iPhone and iPad?

CDs were available in the 1970s?

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Re: iPhone and iPad?

@ Andy Prough

Audio CDs were not commercially released until 1982 in Germany, and not until March, 1983 in most of the rest of the European market and in North America. The first CD to sell 1 million copies was Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits in 1985. It took until 1988 before the majority of American retail music was finally being produced on CD.

I worked on the Philips' announcement to the UK trade in the summer of 79. June, IIRC.

And as you say, they were widely available during the 80s so my point still stands.

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FAIL

Re: iPhone and iPad?

@LarsG

Didn't get Lego till you were 6, gosh you must have been deprived.

I grew up in a very poor family. I humbly apologise if my family's poverty offends your middle class values.

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I thought mullets and moustaches had gone out of fashion.

RTFA. He's grown an authentic '80s mullet and 'tash on purpose for the experiment.

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commercial release of audio CDs

Andy, I have a three CD set of Karajan conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker in six of Haydn’s “Paris” symphonies on Deutsche Grammaphon, recorded digitally between June and September 1980, with a ℗ of 1981; but my understanding is that many recordings were pressed onto CD in 1981 for release in 1982.

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Re: iPhone and iPad?

"Who buys an iPhone and iPad for a two year old? I didn't even get Lego until I was six"

To be fair, a two-year-old is pretty unlikely to swallow an iPad.

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Re: May I humbly suggest

Interesting. I've lived in rural Arkansas for the last 10 years (moved from Dallas after 23 years there) and have had a completely different experience. I live in one of the poorest counties in Arkansas. Cell phones are nearly ubiquitous, and a substantial fraction of the phone are various models of iPhone and Android versions. Satellite TV used to be the norm, but a rising percentage of the population have canceled satellite and now use broadband internet. While speeds are not as high as in cities, I enjoy 20Mbps download speeds.

You paint the state like something out of "Deliverance". Perhaps you were mistaken about where you were staying? :)

Yes, firearms are the norm in rural areas, but I've only seen them used responsibly. Children are taught proper firearm safety at an early age. The vast majority of people I've met have been decent, hardworking, considerate people -- much higher quality folk than so many I encounted while living in urban areas. I really don't understand the comments about firearms I read so often these days.

Mullets + mustaches? Here?? Now I know you're making this up. :)

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Re: iPhone and iPad?

"Brothers in Arms" started the CD-buying revolution in the UK. At one point, there were actually more CDs of it in the UK than there were CD players.

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Re: iPhone and iPad?

@ Robert Long 1

To be fair, a two-year-old is pretty unlikely to swallow an iPad.

But highly likely to stand on it or throw it at a sibling in a spoilt brat tantrum.

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My daughter has all her coursework loaded onto an ipad due to the library running out of copies of the fixed texts they're using this year. Made more annoying as the school has decided to close it's library so has no copies of it's own to hand out either.

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Most of us didn't use CDs until the 90s either...

"Mullet people did not discovered the CD before the 90's..."

*Most* people didn't start using CDs until around the 90s, full stop. CD was still a relatively expensive high-end format in 1986. Harvey Yuppie and Phil Audiophile probably owned one (along with a copy of the aforementioned "Brothers in Arms") but Joe Public typically didn't.

It would be another couple of years or so before they started to become truly mass-market. This is probably signified by the fact that the first full (*) release of a Now That's What I Call Music album was Now 10 in late 1987.

It wasn't until 1992 or so that CD sales finally started overtaking the then-dominant prerecorded cassette format. (**)

It's interesting to consider then, that while the technology was available in 1986, it would probably be "cheating" to use it if you wanted to represent the life of a typical family then. Just like how (e.g.) people see 80s phones and think "OMG, those were the bricks we were using in the 80s" when in fact only a few yuppies and well-paid professionals were.

(*) Now 4, 8 and 9 were apparently released in cut-down single disc format.

(**) Interestingly many people- myself included- thought of CDs as having replaced LPs as the "main" format. Yet it turns out (***) that prerecorded cassettes had already overtaken the LP by 1983, and the latter was already in steep decline- long *before* CD sales had become significant. In short, the cassette probably killed off the LP as much as the CD did. This was apparently bolstered by the industry actively trying to kill off the LP format. So while some may note that CD sales overtook the LP by 1988, that would be misleading in terms of establishing the point of market dominance for CDs.

(***) In the US at least, based on these figures:- http://stopmusictheft.wdfiles.com/local--files/music-sales-analysis/100Index600.png

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Re: iPhone and iPad?

What's wrong with that? Humans like playing with toys, no matter what toys they are. Providing you offer kids a balanced "diet" of toys, some tech, some tactile classics like fluffy toys and bricks, etc, where's the harm in a little tech time for a two year old? Sooner or later they will have to learn to use them as they are the norm, so it's better they have some experience. My 10 year old had enough savings to buy her own iPad so she did, but we limit the time she can use the iPad, the computers and the TV. She still plays with LEGO, reads paper books, swims and plays outside. Balance and a foreign idea these days, parenting!

Parenting has changed, as parents we have roll with it or our kids will get left behind but it has to be done carefully. First computer I had was at the age of 9 back in 1981, they were clunky but incredible tech miracles. Now there's nothing special about them and there's at least 10 times the power in my pocket and I take it for granted but I got introduced to tech at a young age so I managed to get into a well paid tech job due to my parents seeing the benefits. My father loves playing with technology, so if a 70 year old bloke can change with the times I'm sure the rest of us can make an effort.

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Re: Most of us didn't use CDs until the 90s either...

Who ever bought pre-recorded cassettes?

Everyone I know listened to tapes made from LPs, which cost the same amount anyway (apart from the extra cost of half a blank C-90). And you still had the LP to make yourself another copy when, not if, the tape got eaten.

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Only on the men!!

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Re: iPhone and iPad?

It is a really good idea actually. I've had to change the passwords on the TV, laptops, ipad and telephones just to get the bloody kids to go outside and play this summer.

I caught my 13 year old son hiding in the wardrobe in his room playing poxy minecraft, and it was 28C outside.

If he was having a wank I could understand, but minecraft FFS!

When I were a lad....

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Re: Most of us didn't use CDs until the 90s either...

(Additional note relating to my comment on cassette sales figures above; bear in mind that the US used 8-track carts in the 70s, which died and were replaced by cassettes in the 80s. This didn't apply in the UK, where we never really took 8-track to our hearts, and had already been using cassettes for longer. So the sales figures might be slightly different. Still doesn't affect what I said in relation to CDs, though).

"Who ever bought pre-recorded cassettes?"

I did, when I was a kid.

"Everyone I know listened to tapes made from LPs, which cost the same amount anyway (apart from the extra cost of half a blank C-90). And you still had the LP to make yourself another copy when, not if, the tape got eaten."

I looked after my tapes and over 15 years can count on one hand the number of times the tape came out of the machine. And none of them actually destroyed the tape- worst case was that my TDK D60 of "Queen Greatest Hits" sounded a bit crinkled at the very start.

(I *did* actually do that with the first- and almost last- LP I bought (after I got a Midi system), but my parents bought a CD system a month after that, so I bought CDs *and* copied to tape instead, eventually intending to have my own CD player.)

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Unhappy

Re: May I humbly suggest

"I had the misfortune to spend a month in rural Arkansas last year."

I live in rural Arkansas. I shot at a Limey who was mocking my southern English and missed. I won't make that mistake again...

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Laserdiscs, ancient widescreen CRT T.V's etc. Oh, what glorious hardware you could dig up! Unfortunatly DAT wasn't available until 1987...

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Re:80's?

+1 on the CD's, they were prevalent in the early 80's.

And in 1986, you could have a C64, Amiga, Atari ST, 386 PC with EGA running Windows, dial into a BBS, have an analogue laser disc, drive a Sierra Cosworth..

There was Internet in 1986, just no WWW. And the GSM standard was ratified in 1987, not far off.

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Re: Re:80's?

Indeed, I had Compuserve and QuantumLink (before it became AOL) on my C64 in 1985.

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Re: Re:80's?

No way they could use any digital cellular phone system - GSM I. specs were published in 1990 and networks didn't even become operational before 1991-92; I was using an NMT450 (Ericsson Hotline!); I remember, until 1994 (because on average it took national providers 2-3 years to build a meaningful GSM coverage.) And this is all Europe, Canadians, along with USA, were far behind in digital cellular networks, almost up until ~2004-2005, I think.

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Re: Re:80's?

They could also use my old ZX Spectrum, it's a fine piece to start learning coding, it worked great for me back then...

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Re: Re:80's?

I still remember the pain being online on dialup brought to my phone bill every month and the rapidly building stack of computers I already owned in 1986, I'd already given away my Oric just to clear space.

Was the Reg told 1976 and heard 1986? That would just miss the 1st wave of all in one computers like the CBM PET and Apple II (both 1977). Even then there were computers in homes in 1976 (Apple 1 for instance).

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Re: Re:80's?

"And in 1986, you could have a C64, Amiga, Atari ST, 386 PC with EGA running Windows, dial into a BBS, have an analogue laser disc, drive a Sierra Cosworth.."

Hell, I'll give up my laptops, smartphones etc in exchange for a Sierra Cosworth any day of the week.

I'm pretty sure boosty, lairy oversteer is more fun than diagnosing whether a page loading issue is at the server or the client end.

Steven R

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FAIL

Re: Re:80's?

"+1 on the CD's, they were prevalent in the early 80's.

And in 1986, you could have a C64, Amiga, Atari ST, 386 PC with EGA running Windows, dial into a BBS, have an analogue laser disc, drive a Sierra Cosworth.."

See my comment a little further down, past the jump.

If this family really wanted to take a crack at living without "modern" technology, 1986 is a pretty weak-assed choice. They should at least try for an era with no CDs, no PCs, no VCRs, no big-screen analog TVs, no cable/satellite TV... perhaps bend the rules a bit by scoring one of those DTV converter boxes to hook up to a mid '70s vintage Trinitron TV set, if they can find one in working order -- but restrict viewing to one of those DTV channels that runs nothing but '60s/70s shows.

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Re: Re:80's?

The US had digital CDMA networks in the 90s.

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Re: Re:80's?

In 1986, yes, you COULD have all those things. But those who did were still a tiny minority . . . and it wasn't cheap. I seem to remember one company I worked for getting a quote on an IBM PC/AT in late 1984 or early 1985 of $10,000. It had 512KB of RAM and a 40MB hard drive, and as most of you already know, those are not typos.

Your average family today owns some form of computing device. Your average family in the mid-80s was barely aware of them, if at all, despite some TV advertisements now recognized as classics. But actually owning one wasn't on most people's radar. Even small businesses were hesitant to invest in a PC, given it was, at that time, likely to be a capital investment.

Mid-1980s, at most of the temp jobs I worked, the company was still using typewriters. Granted, some of them were word-processing typewriters (a hideous combination of all the worst qualities of both technologies), but most were plain old electric typewriters jazzed up with built-in correction tape so you could at least auto-white-out a certain number of mistyped characters. Those of you who never typed a college term paper on a manual, non-correcting typewriter have no idea what a luxury that seemed at the time.

And, no, I'm not really, really old. I'm 52, and finished college while working part-time and during the summer. I did, later on, have access at home to a Commodore 128 and a PC running MS-DOS 3...an Osborne, Kaypro and, still later, a Mac SE I could use anytime at the university . . . a semester on the DEC VAX . . . and a few temp jobs where the company had invested in one or more computers (including a rather depressing couple of months cold-calling prospects in hopes they'd purchase a Wang). And, yes, I remember WordPerfect fondly, and still believe it beats the swinging hell out of Word, even without the WYSIWHG.

But a mullet? That's just scary.

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Re: Re:80's?

@Steven R

Sierra Cosworth? Hell yeah!! :))

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Re: Re:80's?

I still have mine, man I loved making games for that old thing.

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Re: Re:80's?

Don't want to sound like a fanboi, but in 1986 you could have a few Macintoshes (128, 512/512ke, Plus) with a usable UI and WYSIWYG word processing.

Car-wise, they're US based, but in the UK the Sierra and mk3 Granada were ushering in aerodynamic car design, in 1986 you had the launch of the Citroen AX, XJ40, Vauxhall Carlton, Rover 800, Porsche 959, Vauxhall Belmont and Volvo 480

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Re: Re:80's?

Having owned the 2.0 Sierra (Same engine as the Cosworth, just without the Cosworth tuning) you can keep the Cosworth. Those cars are lethal, most dangerous car I've ever driven :( Must have nearly killed me at least 3 times in the wet, too much power and not enough weight. Great fun in the dry however...

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Re: Re:80's?

+1 to the Volvo 480 (preferably GT)

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Re: Re:80's?

Alien8n, the model to get for all round use was the XR4x4 with the 2.9i in it - not as nickable or impossible to insure as the Cossie (which was mostly tuned by a massive turbo - booooOOOOOST - and other internal tweeks), four wheel drive made it less twitchy, and I'm reliably informed it grips like the proverbial to a blanket in the dry, and is massively adjustable in the wet - or snow.

As for the american market, they got the Merkur XR4ti, which was pretty much a soft XR4i with an aneamic four pot turbo lump from the US market. The south africans got the XR8, which was an XR4i, with, as you can probably guess, a honking great V8 in it, I think the 4.6, possibly the 5.0 - it escapes me now.

TBH I can understand that given that a few euro sierras ended up with breathed on Rover V8s in them (for ease of install and running rather than outright power) but the sweet spot was probably the Turbo Technics kit (sold as an original model - the Minker) with some 280hp, about the same in torque, and 4wd, it was the Subaru WRX Sti of the late 80s/early 90s. At about three times the price.

There are still some Minkers floating around, but hens teeth embedded in rocking horse poo are easier to find. Turbo Technics XR4x4s are rare, but not 'silly' rare - there are probably a couple of hundred rocking around, and I believe if you talk to the right people, and throw a clean XR4x4 at them, you can still get them set up.

Which is a fantastic idea. Take one XR4x4. Fix the rust - which it will have. Debadge it. Put non-bodycolour bumpers on it. Fit 195/50/15 steelies - as per Puma spare wheels. Install the twin turbo kit. Tweek to 300+hp. Should come to about 1300kg wet. If you're feeling daring, do the same but drop the 4x4 running gear and swap it for XR4i RWD only gearbox stuff (And swap the sump as you don't need driveshafts to pass through it etc) - make that 1200kg wet with driver.

Just add 1.8 LX badges to the back, a single, subtle exhaust, and go around scaring M3 and 911 owners in something that looks like it should be being driven by someone with one foot in the grave.

Ooh, nostalgia, you're a bastard, but I enjoy you.

Steven R

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Good on them.

Not something I would personally do* but a good holiday-at-home experience for them.

*Though I do live my life in a version of the modern world where a whole slew of modern things were never invented (Big Brother being one of them).

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Re: Good on them.

The '80's might seem idyllic from a distance, but rebuilding the Berlin Wall and going through the Poll Tax, miners strike, battle of the beanfield debacles again and it seems less exotic. In the UK at least.

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Re: Good on them.

Ás a teenager in the 80s, I hated the manufactured music, the big hair and mullets, the crappy fashion...

All the things we laugh at today, I also laughed at at the time.

80s nostalgia drives me insane!

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Re: 80s nostalgia drives me insane

Be fair. In 1986 I was still a young married and regularly getting my brains shagged out.

I'd swap the use of a cellphone for insatiable sex any day.

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Re: Good on them.

+1 for mentioning the Battle of the Beanfield.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good on them.

Jamie Jones: "80s nostalgia drives me insane!"

Never mind... chill out and enjoy this video of comedian Kira Stylec laying into the 80s nostalgia craze. She's hilarious- and not to mention spot-on in several areas- if I say so myself...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ektZnulCmeU

(Er, and also the 80s thing seems to be past its peak now)

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Clearly no post-86 haircuts are allowed either. Somebody tell this guy that mullets have been replaced by goatees.

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