Happy 20th, TechAways readers!
It’s Cambre’s 20th birthday, and what an exciting 20 years it’s been! 🥳 When we took a few moments to reminisce about what we were doing 20 years ago, it turns out some of us were toddlers 👶, some were starting high school 📚, and some were already well established in their careers 💼! This is what you call agesity a.k.a age diversity!
This actually means some of the people in our team are actual internet babies (which will make some us feel terribly old). By the end of 2001, 8.6% of world population used the internet. This is quite impressive considering that currently (only!) 65.6% of the global population surfs the web (yes, we were also expecting the number to be higher).
This rapid increase in internet access made us smarter (thank you Wikipedia, born on 15 January 2001), and also caused a bit of trouble. The hype for internet back in 2001 was so big that it even had its own market collapse. The so called “Dotcom Bubble” burst at the end of 2001. What do we get when we have a rapid investment in companies that don’t have much experience in actually being companies? A series of bankruptcies, including the collapse of Excite@Home, one of the highest profile internet firms, with 110 million registered users at the time.
On a brighter note, other incredible things made it to the news that year (other than Cambre, of course). Some new thrilling inventions were created, such as the Synchromed Personal Therapy Manager device which made lives of many patients suffering from chronic pain easier by allowing them to self-administer intravenous drugs simply by pressing a button. The Office Coworker Robot seemed like a great invention, and something we wouldn’t mind having now to cheer us on while we WFH! Maybe the Coworker Robot could also sing Cambre a Happy Birthday? And who could forget Solotrek and Skycar: these inventions were supposed to make us fly high, but sadly neither made it to the market. A pity, as we would have loved to be able to save those 30 minutes of commuting by flying to the office.
So many exciting things happening in 2001 that we couldn’t resist taking a trip down memory lane. So, we built our own time machine to check out what happened two decades ago (we had to use the wiring from a fax phone that we found in our basement). We returned from our time travels with a selection of articles and analysed them in the context of current times, especially for you! We did things a bit differently this edition, with our writers signing their stories and including their age (scandalous we know!) But we hope you enjoy the read, and if you, like some of us, remember some of these tech relics a bit too vividly for your own taste, what’s important is that we’re all young at heart… right? 🤷
Being able to listen to almost every song on the planet through music streaming platforms is as normal as breathing for most people. So normal, that I keep forgetting that this wasn’t always the case. In 2001, the BBC reported about a gadget equipped with the “latest in music technology” which enabled MP3 files to be played on a regular cassette player. The gadget allowed you to save MP3 files from your computer onto the device and to play it on a cassette player. When it comes to cassettes, I can still remember how I was patiently sitting in front of the radio waiting for my favourite song to come on so that I could record it. Imagine the effort this took! 20 years and many technological advancements later, music enthusiasts can access any songs at any time. Thanks technology!
Written by Elisabeth Thomas, 27
Listen to your (artificial) heart 💓 [Reuters]
Two decades ago, cardiac surgery experienced a revolution with the first artificial heart implants. At that time, the big innovation was that there were no exterior wires and that the battery passed power through the skin. Twenty years later, scientific progresses have been made and doctors have now created an artificial heart that completely replaces the biological heart, unlike previous implants that were still connected to the atria. These completely artificial hearts are waiting to be commercialised in Europe and will improve the lives of thousands of patients with severe heart conditions. The next innovations to keep an eye on are e-health that will enable, for example, surgeons based in the US to complete surgeries on another continent, and personalised medicine that will help diagnose and cure diseases faster with less damage to the patient thanks to new innovations.
Written by Anne-Claude, 32
Déjà vu: Antitrust edition 🧑⚖️ [Bloomberg]
Reading about Europe’s “trustbusting cop” Mario Monti from 2001 doesn’t feel like a step back in time, it feels like a step back to a few months ago. Mentions of the “rebirth of antirust” and increasing friction between US and EU on “privacy and global warming” are eerily familiar. At the time, the big battle in the US was Microsoft’s monopoly accusations (the EU’s case wouldn’t come until 2004). And while Microsoft weathered its many monopoly storms, it seems that the weather hasn’t changed much for the tech giants that grew in Microsoft’s wake. The US and EU are becoming more aligned, but the 2001 article’s comment that now “Europe will take the lead” in antitrust was prescient in describing the last two decades of competition cases. And who knows, in 20 years maybe we’ll be reading about the “rebirth of antitrust” in the 2020s!
Written by Lauren Clark, 30
Life before hyperlinks? No easy world 🖱️ [Chicago Tribune]
Do you remember when hyperlinks weren’t a thing? This 2001 article in the Chicago Tribune shows that people used to have difficulties figuring out how to copy and paste a web address to a browser. Not just any browser – Internet Explorer! For readers under 25: Internet Explorer is a web browser with a blue E that people used at some point or are still waiting for it load. Anyway, as one reader says, “clipping and pasting Web addresses passed along in e-mail isn’t quite as simple as it sounds”. As funny as this is in 2021, it is also a bit scary. Technology is moving at a faster pace every year, imagine how people in 2041 will find our (lack of) technological saviness amusing!
Written by Adam Koves, 31
We have been able to capture our moments and save them forever with the click of a button for decades, but the methods of preserving them have greatly evolved over time. Nowadays, we trust our cloud to automatically save the pictures we take, but CNN showcases the beginning stages of developing instant image printout methods. Polaroids innovative thermal process allowed both black-and-white and colour images to be easily and cheaply printed. Surprisingly, experts suggested that this development would not be sensational. It is interesting to witness how these analogue methods have made a comeback among young people on modern social media. Even I took challenged myself to use an analogue camera to capture a limited number of pictures for a year. Having a physical print of an image that’s been carefully selected seems to make those pictures even more valuable rather than having them saved in our phone gallery.
Written by Derya Fikret, 24
About this week’s editor, Cambre:
Cambre here! We’ve turned 20 (on 13 June officially) and can now claim to have stepped out of our teenage years! With this newfound wisdom, we’ve taken a close look at our purpose & values to make sure these are fit for the next 20 years… and beyond! We are incredibly proud of the company we have become, through award-winning initiatives like our #BrusselsCalling media debates, techy ideas like our EUssentials app, or by providing digital insights to the EU Bubble through our Report on the Digital Performance of EU Associations. That said, since day one, what we are most proud of is our people, and we never would’ve become who we are without them: it is through employee initiative that we created TechAways after all! So basically, what we’re saying is that this 20th anniversary celebration is more than anything a celebration of those who have led us here, and that includes you, dear reader. So happy birthday to us, and a big thank you to all of you!
In case you haven’t had enough:
Bluetooth Defies Obituaries [New York Times]
Technology That Aims To Do Good [New York Times]
Pay Gap Remains for Women in Life Sciences [New York Times]
A Breakthrough on Cloning? Perhaps, or Perhaps Not Yet [New York Times]