Illustration by Miracle Studios

New Trail 100

We Saw It Coming

We dug through the New Trail archives and found articles that showed just how well grads and researchers could predict the next big thing

September 29, 2020 •

New Trail is 100! To celebrate our centenary year, we went back into the archives and dug up 100 weird and wonderful moments from our past issues. On our hunt, we got glimpses of life on campus through the decades, came across grads and researchers trying to make a difference in the world and found a century-long collection of snippets and stories like the one you're about to read. From the alumni annals, here are a few of the 100 Things We Learned Reading 100 Years of New Trail.

Laptops and smartphones in 1953

“Let us see, what summer school students are doing in the year 2000.” We strolled over to where a group of students were sprawling in the grass and soaking in the hot July sun. “Better not interrupt them, “Whiskeyjack cautioned me. “They are probably attending lectures right now. Each,” he explained, “has his personalized portable television set. Do y’see?”

I did note that they were looking more or less intently at the screen of a small camera-like article each seemed to possess. I glanced from screen to screen. The subject matter, though different, seemed, for the most part, to be of an academic nature.

A student, laden with all the paraphernalia of learning … and gazing intently at the screen of her portable television set, seemed about to be walking smack into the south door. She didn’t raise her eyes. When I thought she must go bang wham into the red panel, this panel very knowledgeably opened and, having let her in, closed after her.

“Isn’t that wonderful?” cried Whiskeyjack. “Here one can sit in on lectures even while one is walking about. And one needn’t take one’s eyes off one’s studies even to open a door. – The author of the "Whiskeyjack" column imagines campus in 2000. (Autumn 1953)

Self-driving cars in 1993

“I just drove two days ago to Drumheller. Coming back on the Calgary Trail is pretty damned boring. I don’t know why the car can’t drive itself. Why can’t there be sensors in the car? Why can’t it know where the right and left shoulder are? Why wouldn’t it be possible to have a car that is smart enough to drive itself? I could program it to say here I am, here’s my destination, here’s the route I want to follow and it would do the rest.” – Jonathan Schaeffer, computing science professor (Summer 1993). Schaeffer went on to serve as dean of the Faculty of Science from 2012-2018 and continues his work at the U of A.

The need for a cure in 2010

“One need only think about the threat to human well-being posed by virus pandemics — avian flu, swine flu, the next unidentified killer — to see how today’s gift has the potential to be transformational in the lives of literally millions of individuals.” – Frank Sixt, president of the Li Ka Shing (Canada) Foundation, during the announcement that Li Ka Shing had donated $28 million toward the founding of the eponymous institute of virology. Now researchers at the institute are working on solutions to COVID-19. (Spring/Summer 2010

Screens in classrooms in 1965

“Closed-circuit television as a teaching aid has come to the campus. With the faculties of Education, Dentistry, and Medicine there is a growing trend to use TV as a supplement to certain courses where increasing enrolment and a relative inaccessibility of certain subject material demands it. … All departments using closed-circuit TV indicate there is an increasing need for more video-tape equipment to expand what has become a valuable and effective method of teaching.” (Autumn 1965)

We at New Trail welcome your comments. Robust debate and criticism are encouraged, provided it is respectful. We reserve the right to reject comments, images or links that attack ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender or sexual orientation; that include offensive language, threats, spam; are fraudulent or defamatory; infringe on copyright or trademarks; and that just generally aren’t very nice. Discussion is monitored and violation of these guidelines will result in comments being disabled.

Latest Stories