Memory Lane, Nostalgia and the exponential evolution of technology


This evening I returned to a location where I spent 4 intense, fun and very rewarding years, almost 30 years ago, the University of Stockholm.  30 years is a fairly long time for a man, but an eon for technology.  It’s simpy amazing how technology has changed the way we act, interact, communicate and live,  over these past 30 years! 

This time at the University though, I’ve joined, as a student,  a very different faculty, that of Slavic languages, more specifically, the Russian language department.  I’m going to try to learn russian.

(Now I’m sure that, after this “revellation”,  NSA just added yet another tag on my profile in their database, their alarm bells now flashing red….  I mean, anyone wanting to speak and understand Russian must be a highly suspect individual, right…? Almost a full fledged terrorist…?  🙂 

“Could he be going to talk to Putin…?” “Is he about to arrange a meeting with Snowden…?”. “Is he a communist…?” 

   I’m sure that  Western “Government Intelligence” – isn’t that a contradiction in terms, btw? – now will give me “an interesting” time, including rubber gloves and vaseline,  next time I’m about to travel to the UK or US…. I just hope that they’ll pass on  the popular water boarding sessions, those do indeed appear quite awful to me….

And nor do I have any desire to spend time in any of the forementioned “Government Intelligence’sBlack Sites, even though  I’ve heard that the board, transport and “leasure activities”  aree complimentary….   )  🙂 

[To facilitate NSA‘s tagging, I’ve placed the highly suspiciouos words and concepts above in Italics, after all, I really do want to be a good citizen of the free democratic world, and by helping out our “watchers” and the “protectors” of our hard won freedoms, I hope to receive a better treatment whenever they decide to detain me at my next  transit, for some dellusional reason or other… ]


Anyways, I’m digressing from my nostalgia trip: 

The really weird feeling is that it’s the same campus, the same buildings, the same corridor’s, the same lecture rooms, and the same “atmosphere” as for 30 years ago, despite the fact that the Computer Science faculty left the Frescati campus in a move to the “Silicon Valley” of Sweden, “Kista”, already some 25 years ago, a few years after I took my degree.

 I felt immediately “at home” at the campus, I can’t even count the number of nights I’ve slept on the benches outside of the computer lab, after having spent days and nights writing code, most of which had nothing to do with the class assignments…. for pure fun. 

Sure, the Internet did actually exist, but it was a well kept secret, only known by a few of us hard core “hackers” (this was before “hacker” got negative connotations!) , the general public – not even most of my class mates – did not even know what intenet was –  and the world wide web and browsers was still almost a decade away…  It was only a few years later, after my exam, that I attended,  as representative for the by then largest Swedish defence contractor,  the founding meeting for the Swedish Internet Administration Organization (can no longer recall its real name)  where a number of people from academia and industry got together to get Internet going in Sweden. But that’s a different story…

It was an extraordinarily strange feeling of Deja Vu to return to the “scene of crime”, now almost 30 years later.

Sitting in the same lecture room as for 30 years ago, probably in the same seat, it felt like it was yesterday, or at least just a few years ago, when I was there last time.  I could even remember where my class mates used to sit, in relation to my seat. 

Another thing that felt weird was seeing all my fellow students now surfing on their cell phones, computers or tablets during class, and the professor presenting on his Mac, accessing various web pages: last time I sat in that room, cell phones did not exist, there was no wifi, personal computers were not used much, outside of purely administrative tasks – our computer science labs were done on mini’s, (DEC’s , PDP’s and VAXes)  accessed by hard wired dumb terminals  (VT100’s) in specific lab rooms,  without any connection to the external world, i.e. there was no “surfing” available. Ethernet did exist, but it was expensive, and there was very limited amount of coax in the building. 

Hypertext was barely invented.  But you could only link to stuff residing on the same computer.

Graphic user interfaces had recently been invented, but were not in common use for several years yet.  If you wanted to “talk” to a computer, you needed to do so by text commands, “clicking a mouse” had no semantic meaning in those days in computing.  

Not really sure about whether this post makes any sense, but for me, it was really a strange feeling to return to a very familiar place after such a long time, and seeing that while not much of the “structure” and facade had changed, the technological development over those past 30 years is simply overwhelming!  

I guess I’m getting old and sentimental…! 🙂 



About swdevperestroika

High tech industry veteran, avid hacker reluctantly transformed to mgmt consultant.
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