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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  1. Anonymous Coward

    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.

    1. LarsG

      Re: iPhone and iPad?

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

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: iPhone and iPad?


        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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The guy is only 26?

      I thought mullets and moustaches had gone out of fashion.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. Greg Stovall

          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. :)

      2. N2


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

      3. Martin Budden Silver badge

        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.

      4. sabba

        Only on the men!!

    3. Ross K Bronze badge

      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.

      1. Alien8n

        Re: iPhone and iPad?

        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.

    4. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

      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.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      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.

      1. Gagol

        Re: iPhone and iPad?

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

        1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

          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:-

          1. A J Stiles

            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.

            1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

              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.)

      2. infinitely improbable

        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...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        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.

      4. Irony Deficient

        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.

      5. A J Stiles

        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.

    6. Burch

      Re: iPhone and iPad?

      CDs were available in the 1970s?

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        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.

    8. Amorous Cowherder

      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.

      1. FreeTard

        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....

  2. regorama

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

  3. AceRimmer1980


    +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.

    1. Rukario

      Re: Re:80's?

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

      1. Levente Szileszky

        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...

        1. John Young

          Re: Re:80's?

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

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            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

            1. Blane Bramble

              Re: Re:80's?

              +1 to the Volvo 480 (preferably GT)

              1. Steven Raith

                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

      2. Paul Shirley

        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).

    2. Levente Szileszky

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re:80's?

        The US had digital CDMA networks in the 90s.

    3. Steven Raith
      Thumb Up

      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

      1. infinitely improbable

        Re: Re:80's?

        @Steven R

        Sierra Cosworth? Hell yeah!! :))

      2. Alien8n

        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...

    4. Mike Flugennock

      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.

    5. cordwainer 1

      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 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.

  4. LaeMing

    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).

    1. Cliff

      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.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        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!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          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.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          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...

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

      2. A J Stiles

        Re: Good on them.

        +1 for mentioning the Battle of the Beanfield.

  5. McBeese

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

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      If you'd read the article you would have noticed an explanation for that. Do pay attention.

  6. stizzleswick

    You're missing *WHAT?!?!?!?*

    "I kinda wish I could just grab that iPad," she told the Toronto Sun, adding, "You're missing seasons of Big Brother."

    Since I cannot imagine anybody equipped with anything even remotely remeniscent of a brain missing "Big Brother," I guess that outs the experimentalists as... well... fill in your own word here; if I did I might get castigated and/or banned. Sorry... there it is. I prefer to think about Real Ale and good cheese, and really, really could do without the likes of "Big Brother" and other entertainments for the brain-dead... I prefer my brain cells to be killed by *really* good Ale...

  7. Isn't it obvious?

    Saw this segment on TV yesterday

    They're not limiting themselves to pre-1987 media; they specifically mentioned that the kids like watching <some Disney movie that passed out of my brain> and I'm pretty sure that was produced in the '90s. (The Lion King? Aladdin? I really don't remember.)

    It just has to be available on video cassette, of which they have a massive library because basically everyone they know said "Hey, you want this junk? Have all of them!" :)

    They also said they made the change as part of a move to a new house; the younger kid doesn't really know any better, but the older one apparently believes that they moved to a house that doesn't have tablets or computers.

  8. PhilipN Silver badge

    Anachronistic Lingo

    Did they really have single cell morons saying "wow", "kind of" and "like" back then? Maybe he should get out of the trees and read a book. Paper or digital.

    Tangential point - Wasn't there an early internet portal called WoW - Worlds of Wonder? Anybody?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The lifestyle isn't completely without its creature comforts. The two boys still enjoy playing Super Mario Bros. on an original Nintendo gaming console, which first went on sale in North America in 1985.

    Makes you wonder what they'll think of today's games when they return to the modern world.

  10. JLV

    1.5 minutes of fame

    Saw a write up on this on the local CBC yesterday.

    As part of their going back to nature bit, they locked up their 3 flat screen TVs.

    3 TVs. For 4 people, two of which are 5 and 2 years old.

    Yes, I agree _they_ needed to ration things a bit, less sure what great living habits they have to teach the rest of us.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 1.5 minutes of fame

      I have 3 TVs I use simultaneously as monitors.

      Counting 'whole displays' rather than 'individual monitors' I have 8 in my house (1 each for the 3 bedrooms, 1 for the gym, 1 for the office, 1 for the living room, 1 for the workshop and 1 for the kitchen) and there's only me living there. They provide broadcast video, on-demand video, radio, all sorts of streamed media from my network, the ability to see who's at the door without stopping what I'm doing in the gym/workshop for people I don't want to talk to (which would mean stopping, making safe, traipsing through the house and probably missing them), etc. I'm just migrating it /all/ onto my home wired/wireless networks at the moment and will probably just drop to 'living room TV' and 'tablet'.

      I don't sit and watch them all, but they're always on in the background in the same way my parents had a radio on.

      Back on topic, I think a surprising number of people are still living in the 1980s with regards to their use of computers- how many of us work in places where a computer is just a direct replacement for paper? Where this computing power is used for nothing more than storing word and excel documents, turning what could be a great resource into a filing cabinet for unnecessary documents?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 1.5 minutes of fame

        "I don't sit and watch them all, but they're always on in the background"

        Well done you, must stop those nasty bouts of "thinking" taking over at any stage in life.

        The external mullet has gone but some still carry the mark.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 1.5 minutes of fame

          So I take it you don't have a radio/CD player/iPod/etc on while you work? If you go to the gym you ask them to turn the music off?

          Well done you. You boring bugger.

  11. Kevin 6

    "I wanted to taste, and I wanted my kids to taste what it would be like without it, and to see if we could actually do it."

    and at the ages of 2, and 5 I'm sure they will remember this in 3-4 years...

    I do agree with him he isn't a Luddite he is a lunatic in his thought process. If he didn't want his 2 year old to have an iPad then I dunno... just DON'T GIVE HIM ONE not like its hard. Or did the 2 year old go out, and steal it himself?

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      "If he didn't want his 2 year old to have an iPad then I dunno... just DON'T GIVE HIM ONE not like its hard.

      And this is what he did, didn't he.

  12. Darryl

    Yeah, this has been 'sensational' headline news all over Canada for a week or so. First time I heard it, he said something about deciding to do it because he couldn't get his son to put down the iPhone or iPad (can't remember which) and go outside, and all I thought was 'then don't give your preschool kids tablets and phones.'

    They're just paying the price for the convenience of the iBabySitter™

  13. Craig 28

    Lazy parents blame technology for making their kids lazy? You want the kids to be more active buy them a Nerf gun or a Super Soaker, hell buy them a ball or a remote control car they can drive around outside. Most importantly if ou want them to go outside more go outside with them, spend time together out there together and bond.

    Using a disfunctional family for an experiment gives disfunctional results, it's the GIGO principle.

    Also from the comment about missing TV programs, even if it is reality crap, why not just watch it live? I know digital TV wasn't around in 1986 but analogue was so having at least live TV irregardless of the transmission medium would give a more authentic experience than no live TV at all. If you can find a digital set top box that works via SCART or other medium which can be plugged into a CRT TV so much the better, you'll get more channels but no improvement in quality.

    1. Chris G

      Can anyone explain

      The word irregardless? I have seen it a few times used on the interwobble and heard such peole as Paul Jr in OCC use it but I can't for the life of me make sense of this particular double negative.

      1. infinitely improbable

        Re: Can anyone explain

        'irregardless'? It is, apparently, accepted in USAian as meaning the exact same thing as 'regardless'. Maybe they confused it with 'irrespective'? Who knows?

      2. Ross K Bronze badge

        Re: Can anyone explain

        I can't for the life of me make sense of this particular double negative.

        Used by stupid people, particularly Americans.

    2. Goldmember

      @Craig 28

      Upvote for the sentiment, down for the use of made-up word 'irregardless'. So nothing (this is where an 'indifferent' button would be useful).

      And @infinitely improbable, the use of a nonsensical word by several people doesn't make it acceptable. Americans also think it acceptable to say 'I could care less' when they actually mean 'I COULDN'T care less'. That one annoys the shit out if me.

      1. LaeMing

        Conservation of verbage.

        They lost a syllable in 'could care less' and had to add a new one to the start of 'regardless' to compensate.

      2. Irony Deficient


        Goldmember, irregardless is in the Oxford English Dictionary; its earliest recorded use in print was in 1912. Since the OED is descriptive rather than prescriptive, it will incorporate a nonsensical word if enough people use it (e.g. “chortle”, which originally came from Carroll’s Jabberwocky). Regarding “I could care less” vs. “I couldn’t care less”, there is an elision in the former variant; the subtext is “I could care less [if only I cared about it at all to begin with]”.

        1. Ross K Bronze badge

          Re: irregardless

          Goldmember, irregardless is in the Oxford English Dictionary...

          Yes, the OED does include bastardised words - usually with the disclaimer that they're 'dialectal'.

          All 'dialectal' that means is that there's a sizeable group of morons using the word, much like twerking or sexting...

          1. Irony Deficient

            Re: irregardless

            Ross, irregardless is not categorized by the OED as dialectal, though it is noted as being “Chiefly N. Amer.

            If you honestly believe that “dialectal” is synonymous with “moronic”, then you have my pity.

  14. Suricou Raven

    BBC did it.

    They did a three-part show called 'Electric Dreams,' where they reverted a family home to 70s technology then advanced it at the rate of one decade per week and filmed how the family handled it.

  15. jake Silver badge


    When my daughter & grandaughter spend a week or so at my place just outside FortBragg, CA, we kill all electronics. We're not there for YouTube ... we're there for family time.

    1. Steven Raith

      Re: Whatever.

      There's a similar thing when me and some mutual friends go out to see some other friends in the next town. We only get a chance to do it a couple of times a month due to work pressures etc on both sides, so during that time, mobiles and the internet in general are frowned upon unless relevant to the conversation - IE showing something on a map is far easier/quicker on Google Maps on a smartphone than it is to dig out a world atlas etc.

      We all chat all the time on FB etc, but it's far better to get in each others face in person - and far more entertaining.

      Steven R

    2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Whatever.

      "When my daughter & grandaughter spend aweek or so at my place just outside FortBragg, CA, we kill all electronics. We're not there for YouTube ... we're there for family time."

      I agree with the sentiment. I don't understand all the downvotes... Are there really people out there who think that it's unjust to be expexted to not use youtube on you hols?

    3. Arthur 1

      Re: Whatever.

      When my daughter & grandaughter spend a week or so at my place just outside FortBragg, CA, we kill all electronics. We're not there for YouTube ... we're there for family time.

      Upvoted because... well... why was this downvoted? Do we have that many whiny entitled 13 year olds posting here?

      Don't answer that...

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Whatever.

        People downvote me out of reflex. I think I scare them.

        Whatever. Thumbs in this forum are meaningless.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Whatever.

          I don't think you "scare" people, Jake. I think you just piss them off.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Whatever.

            I think you just piss them off.

            Not even worth that much effort.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Christian Berger

    So what are they missing then?

    I mean the Internet existed in 1986 and people had computer terminals in their homes as early as 1970. At least they should give their children access to the X.25 network.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: So what are they missing then?

      Did I miss the sarcasm tag?

  17. BongoJoe

    "Because I'm like, wow"

    Sometimes I despair. Truly, I do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Because I'm like, wow"

      I despair sometimes. I do, truly.


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Because I'm like, wow"

      Cut the guy some slack. He's giving an interview to a journalist not writing a degree paper.

  18. Roger B
    Thumb Up


    I had it quite interesting that some of the comments here are either "oh my god, your kids have a tablet, whhhyyy?" or "why don't they just use s BBS system, I was using xyz net on my Acorn Electron back in the day" Both of which seem to be missing the point. It seems to me that the parents realised there was a problem, or at least there would be in a few years time if the kids keeps kept playing on their iPads, watching countless reality TV shows and missing out on making mud pies, building go karts and kicking footballs up so they pounced off the phone lines in the street, (that's what I remember doing back then anyway.)

    I say congratulations to them and hope they have a great time watching Crocodile Dundee, spending some quality time with mum and dad and maybe climbing a tree or two.

  19. Anomalous Cowshed


    A man decides not to use mobile phones for his family; why is this sensational news?

    How come a newspaper is so interested in such a mundane story?

    What next: a man decides NOT TO HAVE A TV IN HIS HOME...will that become national news?

    It seems they have quite a knack for publicising their stunt - for it is surely a stunt, since they only plan to do it for one year, and will then presumably revert to what is, after all, the 'right way of living'. As such, it seems to me more of a media stunt than a family genuinely deciding to eschew 21st century technology - of which there are many, many examples, both in the developed world, and of course, across the rest of the world, none of whom consider this to be worthy of attention by the press.

    1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      Re: Wow

      Onion did carry a piece about that,429/

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wow

        The only people I tell about my lack of TV are the TV Licensing shower.

  20. Trollslayer

    I like this

    It shows how much our world has changed since 1986.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good luck with that

    If you're a parent and you can't teach your kids that iPhones and most other electronics are just bubblegum for the brain because they are bored and too lazy to get a life, a year back to 1986 isn't going to fix the problem though I give them credit for trying to improve their children's lives. In a world of sheeple it's not easy to get yoof to actually think when all of their friends are braindead zombies manipulated by the unscrupulous.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As a child of the sixties...

    I sometime mourn for the pre-personal computer age. Trees, rivers, mud and hills were all we needed. Life outside was not only encouraged in the waking hours, it was manadatory! We used our imaginations, Dad's shed was Thunderbird 5 for instance...

    1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      Re: As a child of the sixties...

      You had mud! When I were a lad...

    2. Rol

      Re: As a child of the sixties...

      I think you hit it on the head AC. Imagination is virtually free entertainment with only a minor requirement that the user has no instantly gratifying, low input, distractions and sufficient encouragement to explore the myriad of possibilities our wet ware provides.

      Obviously this is very bad as it subverts consumerism, encourages individuality and expands our universe beyond the reach of the agencies that do the thinking for us.

      It would be interesting to compare the inventiveness of each generation, then again, I can imagine the graph would show a gradual rise as we spent less time chasing food, a peak at around the 20th century when we had universal access to education, then trailing off again as we spent more time chasing feed.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I bet the neighbors will like to hear the sound of a rake rather than a leaf blower.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      "I bet the neighbors will like to hear the sound of a rake rather than a leaf blower."

      Leaf blowers must die!!!!!!!!!

  24. rcorrect

    I feel sorry for the kids

    So the parents don't want their kids being addicted to technology, fine. It just seems the parents are overreacting and looking to glorify themselves. As others have stated this isn't a big deal, if the parents were really that gung-ho they would move in with an Omish family.

    1. Ross K Bronze badge

      Re: I feel sorry for the kids

      if the parents were really that gung-ho they would move in with an Omish family.

      The Omish? Who are they, people who don't believe in Ohm's Law?

      1. Simon Harris

        Re: I feel sorry for the kids

        I believe the Ohmish are resistors of modern life.

        1. Ross K Bronze badge

          Re: I feel sorry for the kids

          How do they keep up with current affairs if they don't have a TV?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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.

          2. Salafrance Underhill

            Re: I feel sorry for the kids

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

          3. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. ecofeco Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: I feel sorry for the kids

          I believe the Ohmish are resistors of modern life.


    2. Salafrance Underhill

      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.

  25. JeffyPoooh


    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      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.

  26. Florida1920

    Will be checking Netflix

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

    1. Simon Harris

      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!

  27. Greg J Preece

    "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.

    1. Mike Flugennock

      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.

  28. Mike Flugennock

    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.

    1. jake Silver badge

      @ 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.

  29. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    "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.

  30. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    "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.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "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.

    2. Salafrance Underhill

      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.

      1. Salafrance Underhill


        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.

  31. john devoy

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

  32. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  33. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    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).

  34. Tom 7

    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!

  35. AussieCanuck46

    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.

  36. Captain Save-a-ho

    1986 in Canada?

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

  37. herman

    Backward Canadians

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

  38. MacroRodent

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  39. Martin Budden Silver badge

    I fucking LOVE rotary phones!

    Especially red ones.

  40. Pugwash69


    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.

  41. mike.dee

    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.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is amazing... dumb yoof are today though MTV and similar has helped make them dumber.

  43. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    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....

  44. Simon Harris

    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.

  45. bag o' spanners

    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.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  47. Nick Pettefar


    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...

  48. sabba

    Do you mean to tell me...

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

  49. Potemkine Silver badge

    No internet in the 80's?

    No kidding.

  50. Roby

    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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