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 …

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I feel sorry for the kids

How do they keep up? Radio, newspapers? I've had no television for over twenty years. Several friends abandoned it Amazingly, we can all read and listen. If you need pictures and are illiterate you need help. If you rely on television for your view of the world, you need urgent help and should not be allowed to vote.

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Coat

Re: I feel sorry for the kids

I read an 'article' recently - dick quotes because it was pushing a book about the Amish - which suggested that one's use of technology is dictated very much by the particular clade of the Amish faith of which one is a member. The article went on to say that there's a specialised market for computer electronics, used for any relevant mercantile endeavour, that have been made Amish-friendly by removing net access. I don't know whether this is true or not, but it wouldn't be particularly surprising.

Okay, Amish-vs-technology jokes are pretty widespred and one of the funnier ones I've seen was an off-the-cuff remark from someone logged into Eve, who claimed that he was Amish and that he'd logged on from a potato.

Aw, cute.

I wonder what the driver support is like under Linux.

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Re: I feel sorry for the kids

I think *everyone* missed the irony on that remark.

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Thumb Up

Re: I feel sorry for the kids

I believe the Ohmish are resistors of modern life.

POTD!

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Ignorant

As many have already pointed out, computers in the home were starting to become quite common by 1986. We had three or four in 1981, five years earlier. By 1986 we had at least a half dozen. Dial-up modems, BBSs, and NewsGroups filled the role of the yet-to-invented Web.

Anyone that believes that 1986 was a computer-free zone is just plain ignorant.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ignorant

Balls. I was a computer manager in 1981. For private users there was no effective Internet. The Spectrum, acorn and others arrived. But they were not generally networked for home users. Apple etc came in the mid 80s. But they were dear and, working in a scientific environment, I knew one person wit an Apple at home, a couple of people with spectrum or BBC or similar. Most were uni students with access in the university. They were not common home devices, they were mainly for hobbyists until Apple and later MS provided convincing interfaces to useful utilities and networking became widespread enough and cheap enough, in theMid to late 1980s. A dumb terminal (VDU) cost more than a cheap desktop computer does today. I even recall logging in to work using a 300 baud acoustic modem with the telephone receiver. The noisy telephone line made using a screen editor quite a challenge.

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Re: Ignorant

Well Jeffy, your house was the exception.

For most people in 1986, a PC was not only a luxury, but without relevance to the average person. Game consoles were just beginning to sell in large numbers and the XT/AT PC as we know it today was just hitting the market. That was about all the digital anyone wanted or needed. Prior to that, a PC was a dedicated, proprietary box like a Commodore or Sinclair or Spectrum, etc.

Also, while BBSs existed, they were, again, just another luxury without relevance to the avg person, not to mention something only geeks and nerds even knew existed and how to use.

And, as another posted mentioned, the cost of both a PC and connecting to a BBS was prohibitive. No, it was outrageous.

So while PCs and communication connections for it to the outside world existed, it was neither prevalent nor relevant to the average person or the market.

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Facepalm

Will be checking Netflix

Can't wait for the Blu-ray documentary of their adventures!

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Re: Will be checking Netflix

For a couple wanting to live in the 1980s, they certainly seem to be generating enough 21st century publicity.

Can't help thinking there's going to be a TV show/book/magazine articles coming out of this!

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"By removing modern society's amazingly convenient methods of contacting anyone, anywhere, at any time, we're going to make you reconnect with people."

Riiiight. Sounds like another case of Grumpy Old Parents. Woe is me, the world isn't how it was when I was a kid. Nothing should ever change.

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Meh

D'ahhh, these kids today

I went to high school and college in the 1970s, and those seemed ilke pretty far-out gee-whiz high-tech days at the time. I distinctly remember my Dad's needling from time to time about how spoiled I was by jet propulsion and CinemaScope and color TV and stereophonic sound and pocket calculators and solid-state electronics.

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Meh

hey, waitaminnit... no CDs?

There's a big "d'ohh", right there. As I recall, the first reissues of pop albums on CD was around 1983 or '84ish. Dire Straits' Brothers In Arms (1985) was not only released on CD, but was also the first all-digitally-recorded album.

Living without computers is a bit off-base as well; while the Internet as we know it was five or six years off, there was a fairly sizeable penetration of personal computers into homes; the IBM PC/compatibles had been on the market since at least 1980, and Macs had been available since 1984.

Also... stop me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the first generation of cellular phones hitting the market around '86 as well?

In a way, I can kind of dig why they're doing this, but it doesn't seem as if they've done any proper research into what technology was actually available in 1986... and, still, this whole thing smacks of publicity gimmick; a lot of other posters here are right to suspect that all this balloon juice is aimed toward a TV show/book deal. I just hope the guy puts his money where his mouth is, and writes his book in DOS WordPerfect, or MacWrite 2.0.

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@ Mike Flugennock (was: Re: hey, waitaminnit... no CDs?)

"Dire Straits' Brothers In Arms (1985)"

Probably the worst thing Robert Zimmerman ever inflicted on popular music ... Totally over produced. The guts of the tunage are good, but the studio completely cocked it up.

I was using "TehIntraWebTubes" (whatever that is) on January 1, 1983. Flag Day.

OK, I'll stop you. I used my Motorola Dynatac in 1983.

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"McMillan, his 27-year-old girlfriend Morgan Patey, and their two sons"

Sorry, if you've got children, she's your wife. I don't care if you've got a piece of paper or not, once you've got children, you're a couple.

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"1986... no mobile phones, no internet, and no computers."

Ok, I didn't get a mobile phone until 1999, but I had my own computer, access to a networked computer suite, and access to the internet.

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"1986... no mobile phones, no internet, and no computers."

The first analog cellular system widely deployed in North America was the Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS).[23] It was commercially introduced in the Americas in 1978, Israel in 1986, and Australia in 1987.

Other systems, dating as far back as 1946, though far more severely restricted in access and availability.

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I can't remember when I first had net access (outside of work), but it was via Demon Internet's dialup, using a homebuilt 386sx machine running Windows 3.1. The internet protocols were handled using Clarkson packet drivers and KA9Q. I wanted a 386-based UNIX system, but I wasn't prepared to pony up the grand or so for a Xenix or SCO license. The PoP wasn't local and it was distressingly easy to run up a huge phone bill.

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Errata...

I checked; 3.1 came out in 1992, so Linux was around at the time. This fits with my hazy memories, because I first heard about it not long afterwards from a friend. My first Linux install was Slackware version 1, which I'd downloaded and saved onto a billion or so 3.5" floppy disks. This is way after the 1986 cut-off point and so I'd imagine it counts as alien technology.

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They could at least have gotten hold of a c64 or Atari 2600 for some 'arcade quality gaming action'.

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Anonymous Coward

oh, the joy of publicity

anything for 0.00001 millisecond of fame. That said.. if they peddle their film for a 100K or more, at least they will have not lost out financially. There are probably 50 millions much less noble ways to make money anyway, so good luck to them.

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He should use Superia instead

for 20 bucks a roll he is not getting super-duper film anyway, so he should probably get some Superia which does the job for holiday snaps and can be had in Canada for a little under 10 bucks a roll of 24 (including development and 4x6 print).

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Pre 1986?

So they could have a Leo and do most of the things that companies with hundreds of modern PC's a million times more powerful contract out to others!

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Time Warp Man

How nice that daddy has decided to rewind the clock. I'm sure the Mennonites who live in his area would agree with his decision, except that they have no way of learning about it. What's magical about 1986 except that's when the old man was born? Why not 1886? Or be a real manly Luddite and go back another hundred years or so before that? If you want your kids to play outside take them to the freakin' park once in a while. This idea is just stoopid.

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Coat

1986 in Canada?

Pretty sure the 80s didn't come to Canada until 1994, you hoser.

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Backward Canadians

Krikey, I had all those things in 1986, but I was living in Africa at the time...

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Why no vinyl

MP3 players and even compact discs are out. The family only listens to music on cassette tape and watches movies on a VCR,

Odd, when one wanted to listen to recorded music at home in 1986, it was usually with the LP player. Much better fidelity than with cassettes. As noted by others, CD:s were already theoretically available, but were still uncommon. I recall seeing one myself only around that time.

Oh, and home movies were of course Super-8. With more expensive gear you could even get sound.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why no vinyl

I wondered about this too. While I didn't see a CD until the early 90's vinyl records were very prominent.

I've basically inherited most of the records from my early years from my mother, consequently I've got more music on LP than CD.

And if I'm at home, it's sometimes nice to just put on a record, even in these modern cloud-connected times. I find it good actually … the LPs last about 20~30 minutes a side, forcing you to get off your bum and turn the record over or get another one every 20 minutes, which is something we all need to be doing for physical health.

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I fucking LOVE rotary phones!

Especially red ones.

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idiots

In 1986 I'm pretty certain I was sat in my bedroom learning to program on a BBC Micro. I had my own colour TV and my mate used to come around and play on the computer in the evenings.

I'd rather kids were social online than bedroom recluses like I was.

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Everybody said that in 1986 home computers were widespread., so audio CDs. Actually I had my first PC in 1986, was a Sinclair QL. No modem until the '90s actually. At school we used a bunh of Olivetti M24 and a newfangled Olivetti M28 with their almost-XP or AT compatible architecture

I think that having to use an '80s computer could be really interesting as a learning experience. On that times to make something useful you have had to leanrd how a computer works and all of the quirks of the system you were using.

And for television. I stilll have only CRT tv sets, hooked to a dvb set top box.

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Anonymous Coward

It is amazing...

...how dumb yoof are today though MTV and similar has helped make them dumber.

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The technology may have been crap...

But the music, the entertainment and the general culture sound a lot better than today's. And for films you get Star Trek, Star Wars, Indiana Jones....

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Childcatcher

Playing outdoors.

I'm sure children from every generation have found ways not to play outdoors.

I was a kid in the 70s, and spent a lot of my pre-home-computer-age time indoors with my trainset, lego, airfix kits and stuff when I could have been playing outdoors.

My parents didn't think it necessary to drag me and my sister back to some pre-industrial revolution theme-house to force me away from my indoor pursuits.

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Devil

All sounds thoroughly bogus to me. Going Amish for a year would be more of a challenge, but then they wouldn't get to sport mullets, watch tv, and act like ignint assholes. The kids are the only ones being socially experimented on, while the parents pretend they're undergoing some irrelevant hardships to garner some braindead media attention.

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Anonymous Coward

A friend of mine recently volunteered help for an open source project and was turned down because she did not have a Facebook or LinkedIn account "to prove her identity". Offers of a passport and driving license were rejected as insufficient proof by the geeky little twerp Lording over it.

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1986

In 1986 I had a Philips PSR80 mobile telephone, Philips CD player, XJ6, pocket colour TV, Apple computer, Yamaha FJ1200, programmable calculator and many other wonders. Things have gone decidedly downhill since then...

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Do you mean to tell me...

...that it's not still 1986 in Canada!!

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No internet in the 80's?

No kidding.

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I bet they still consume modern day American fast food. They would do far better to cut that out rather than cutting out the gadgets.

Amazing that they were born in 1986. They look about 10 years older than that.

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