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How we thought technology could affect our lives in the 1980s

As 1979 was coming to a close, The National made some bold predictions about the technology Canadians should expect to see arrive in the 1980s.

'The spread of technology, we're told, could transform our lives'

At the end of 1979, John Blackstone tells CBC viewers what to expect technology-wise in the coming decade. 1:05

Forty years ago, it appeared the future would be full of remote controls and high-tech screens.

And it sort of turned out that way ... though perhaps not exactly in the way shown on The National on Boxing Day in 1979.

On that day, The National was making some predictions on where we would be headed in the 1980s — and then it seemed the future looked different and potentially dark, depending on how things turned out.

A comparison was drawn to "the wired world" of George Orwell's 1984, which reporter John Blackstone briefly recapped for viewers so they would understand the reference.  

"The world of 1984 was wired and no one ever knew on what wire the Thought Police were plugged in," said Blackstone.

Hope and fear on the horizon

"In some ways, the wired world of 1984 will arrive on schedule," he added. "Two-way television is likely to be gaining popularity four years into the decade. TV sets, thanks to cable and home computers, will be able to watch and listen, as well as show."

And those computers? The experts said we should expect to see more of them in the years to come.

"The interconnection of computers, cable television and the telephone could bring an information explosion — more information available to more people," Blackstone said.

"Developments that are both hopeful and frightening," he added, referring to the risk that "vast information banks" brought with them.

Change was coming in the 1980s and we were all going to have to get used to it. 0:24

The National's report also predicted that we could see electronic money, mail and newspapers in the future.

"We may shop from home and even work at home," said Blackstone. "The spread of technology, we're told, could transform our lives."

There was also a message from experts: that we wouldn't be able to stop the change that was coming.

"Computers and communications will get so much better that we will have to change to keep up with them," said Blackstone.

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