I had a dream where I was working on hacking on something with another person, I had apparently travelled to the past, since I still had on an Apple Watch, but it said the year was 2003. While hacking on whatever it was, I had the idea to download Linux, but then I remembered it wasn’t released yet.

There were all sorts of things that don’t make sense in the dream: my Apple Watch face doesn’t show the year, nor is there a way to show it and Linux certainly had been released.

Lets assume the year was wrong and it was a time before Linux was out. I hadn’t used it until 1993, but it had been out a few years by then, so for the sake of analysis, let’s assume it was 25 years ago in my dream, 1991. I guess also ignore the time travel part too. The dream made me wonder what of my Apple Watch would have worked back then?

It showed me a time, and that is plausible, assuming it had power, the watch would keep time. It would even show the correct time, if there was a network, because NTP was around then.

Besides NTP, most of the communication these days is done over HTTP or HTTPS. These sort of existed in 1991, but it was before any publicly available browser existed by a few years. Maybe if we were at CERN, some data would be available over HTTP, but not elsewhere.

The Apple Watch relies on Bluetooth to communicate with the host iPhone, that is point-to-point, so that would have been just fine, but that’s where it ends, while we were on the verge of digital cellular communication, it is just too early for any cellular data network to exist, certainly one that is compatible with a modern iPhone. Wi-fi certainly wasn’t deployed yet, either. Again, the precursors to wi-fi existed, but as a standard that was widely deployed, not yet.

At this time, before Linux was released, it was back in the days of FTP and archie. Most people used dialup. There was no web, no google. Certainly no Watch OS or even a Darwin kernel, these were the days of System 7, the early days of System 7 from Apple. However, NeXTSTEP was in its infancy, the precursor to Mac OS X.

This crazy dream sent me on a thought exercise which showed me just how far technology has come in such a short time. Almost everything we do these days on a computer, our mobile devices, even our TVs (digital broadcast, HDTV, flat-panel displays) didn’t even exist 25 years ago!