Recently, I wrote a post about what’s the same and what’s different about heading off to university 50 years ago versus now. The 50th anniversary of having graduated from McGill had been the catalyst for this thought process. Shortly after I wrote that post, I had an email out of the blue from a former colleague of mine at IBM in the UK from some 47 years ago. We hadn’t communicated since then; wow, that’s a lot of catching up to do! That got me thinking about what computing was like in the late 60s, and how much has changed since then. Those changes make changes in university life seem pretty trivial by comparison.
When getting ready to leave home for university, one of the things my mother determined I needed was a portable typewriter. She was convinced that I wouldn’t be allowed to submit the many term papers I’d be writing in hand-written form and that a typewriter would be essential. As it turned out, I didn’t have many term papers, being in science, and those I did have could be submitted in hand-written form, but my university readiness kit did indeed include a typewriter. Also among my going-away must-haves were my booklets of log tables and trig tables, critical for making calculations for math and for science experiments. Oh my, how things have changed! Both of those “technical” aids have gone the way of the dodo. Continue reading