Innovation in Academics

July 26, 2017

Posted: November 28, 2016, 5:56pm

I had a fascinating conversation with my advisor today about the history of academics. I asked him if it was difficult to stay abreast of current technology or if he thought that academics are generally up-to-date with the current cutting edge. The conversation started when he showed me his original Macintosh SE.

Released in March 1987 (before I was born, I might add), it still sports that floppy disk slot and the colorful Macintosh Apple Logo and that bland gray color that so characterized 90’s computing. We moved the conversation onto the his Ph.D. thesis, which he said he had paid a fee to have it typed (it was originally handwritten in his notebook, which literally hundreds of equations) by his department. That would have been on an IBM Selectric typewriter, which would have had interchangeable balls for mathematical symbols needed. I pity the poor soul who had to type these sorts of documents. We definitely have it easy today.

He told me that he remembers being part of institutions with the new cutting edge technology that eventually shifted his lifestyle to spending everyday in the library (reading journals) to having new journal releases delivered to his email inbox. He began his career with one of the first personal computers and learned punch-card computing in high school and now he is the advisor to a team of researchers who use the supercomputing resources at USC. How the times change!

Published on July 26th, 2017

Last updated on August 10th, 2017