Retro Scan of the Week: “Are Computers Bringing Familes Together, or Tearing Them Apart?”

November 27th, 2006 by Benj Edwards
Computers Tearing Families Apart

Sensationalist journalism in a 1984 consumer computer magazine? Nah.

This scan is from a May 1984 article in Personal Computing by Craig Zarley titled “The Pleasures and Perils of Computing at Home.” The article’s main angle focuses on the numerous computer advertisements of the day that pictured an excited, wide-eyed family huddled around a computer while collectively enthralled by whatever is happening on the screen. First-time computer buyers got a rude awakening, however, when they took their new machines home and instead found most of the family competing for personal time with the “new family member.”

Anyone who grew up with a sibling and not enough computers to go around can attest to this phenomenon, yet I find it funny that Personal Computing turned it into the cover article of a magazine. This means that either consumer-level personal computers were so new at the time (and they were) that issues like this seemed novel, or else the magazine was really desperate for material. Perhaps the correct answer lies somewhere between both extremes.

Still, I love those old “family” ads, even if they are unrealistic.

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8 Responses to “Retro Scan of the Week: “Are Computers Bringing Familes Together, or Tearing Them Apart?””

  1. KitsuneDarkStalker Says:

    That’s the way it is at our house, I hog the PC, and the others gripe. 😉

  2. Mark Says:

    Actualy what kept familys apart at the time was the shear size of the damn things!

  3. Russell S Says:

    I would sit in my room and play my Commodore 64, refusing to let my little brother sit in and even watch. He would crack open my door, just a little bit, and peek through it to watch the screen from afar for hours on end. I was so cruel. Nowadays, I’d pay anything to have him visit so we can swap old stories over a game of Halo.

  4. RedWolf Says:

    Commodore 64: Keeping Brothers Apart Since 1983.

  5. dreggy Says:

    my and my broth used to fight over our dads computer, then i got my own and the wanted to be my brst freind.

  6. nobodyz Says:

    This cover is almost eerie, it’s so psychic. In 1984, we didn’t know people would discover the word wide web and cheat on their spouses and divorce over it one day. We did know, I think on some level, that there would be fights over who would get to use the new “toy” … thus the cover. The ads the author of the above article mentioned were just as bogus and misrepresenting as the ads of today: that much has stayed the same.

  7. Sharktar Says:

    It’s funny how some concerns relax as lifestyles change. I remember when that one wife threw a moth into the computer room just so she could gripe at her husband when he finally came home…

  8. David Says:

    luckly there’s enough computers to go around at my house seeing that Im an only child. My mom doesn’t use computers, my dad’s a heavy gamer and my parents got me a PC so I could program video PC games

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