1980 featured graphic
Roger Bara

I went to sleep and woke up 54 years later.

A couple of weeks before that fateful night when I went to bed in 1980, only to wake up in 2024, my father had taken me and Mrs B back to his homeland, Poland, where he had not been since starting his national service in early 1939.

We stayed in the very same apartment in Katowice which was the scene of dad’s birth, and looked out at the playground in which he had played some 60 years earlier. It was an enormously poignant and emotive trip, which included a visit to Oświęcim, otherwise known as Auschwitz. Despite the sheer wonderment of our visit, we did miss the children back home very much.

That was a problem, as my family did not have a telephone in their apartment, which was not unusual in eastern Europe at that time. There was a solution however. A near neighbour, on the same floor, did have the  requisite equipment, and one evening, they re-wired it so that the phone reached my family’s apartment. (Highly illegal, apparently, but very successful.)

Katowice, Poland
Katowice, Poland

Then followed a “reverse-charge” call via the operator to our home back in the U.K. We were told four hours would be the minimum wait for a connection. It eventually happened, and we managed to have a reassuring few words with the boys, and all was well. We were able to continue sampling the local vodka without worry.

You can image my utter disbelief to find out that in 2024, it was possible not only to speak to anyone in the entire planet, at any time and immediately, if necessary, but to be able to see them as we spoke! Pure science fiction to me; utterly unbelievable.

My favourite programme as a child was “Thunderbirds”, where the characters would speak into a watch and talk to people. That will never happen in my lifetime, I thought back then. Now people can do that with their miniature telephones, that have no wires connected to them. It’s magic!!! 

Oh, to have had that capability back in Poland in 1980…….. Just wow!

It’s 2024, but I went to sleep in 1980…

Our Rusuk Blog writer Sergey

I am five years old. The last thing I remember before I fell asleep was attending a basketball game, USSR against Yugoslavia. It was August 1980, the Olympic Games. The Soviet team was in red jerseys; the Yugs wore dark-blue colors. The Soviet Union lost 99–101 in over-time in the semifinal. 

Moscow vs. Yugoslava, basketball, 1980

Then, we went home to our Moscow apartment building in the Yasenevo district. We lived on the 14th floor, windows looking at the giant Bitsa forest. I was very tired, went to bed and fell asleep almost immediately… 

I woke up in an unknown room—definitely not the room that I shared with my elder brother. The first thing that struck me was a big black screen—like a TV but very flat, almost two-dimensional.

A month later.

 I am starting to get used to my new life. The only thing that keeps me connected to the past is the building I live in. Now, it is on the sixth floor, but the building is the same architectural series. It was built, as I found out recently, back in 1987. 

Lots of things have shocked me. Cars look like sci-fi vehicles to me: back in 1980, I could recall Lada and Volga

What I still can’t get is cell phones. Back in 1980, we didn’t even have any landline phone in our apartment, you know, with a spinning dial. Now I hold this little thing: its whole bigger side is the screen. What killed me: you just tap it and get it! You are just one touch away from the world, even on the street! You can call anywhere. As far as I remember, back in 1980, you had to dial telephone service and order a phone call with a relative in Kamchatka, if you had a landline at home. If you didn’t have it, you had to go to the nearest long-distance call station…

Many things look surprising to me, literally, on every corner. Yet, I am getting used to my new life in the future.

Plus, there are still things that are the same. At least, almost. Subway down below – and planes high above.

Yes, the subway cars look more… modern. I still don’t know about the planes; they look the same to me: jets on their landing path to the Vnukovo airport. 

Its 2024 but I went to sleep in 1980

Photograph of Dean Lewis

I know I’m old. I remember 1980 well and I know more time has passed between 1980 and today than passed from World War II until 1980. Jimmy Carter was in the White House and “The Empire Strikes Back” was in theatres. 

In many ways, the technology we have today could have been predicted in 1980. Example: if computer chips double in power every other year, then our current laptops and computer powered AI should have been obvious. In hind sight, the iPhone should have been expected.

I think someone waking up today would be most surprised by two things. The first would be the rise of hate politics. When I was young, I assumed that the world would continue to become a better place. Toxic views would just fade away to be replaced by a more compassionate outlook. I guess I just assumed the American middle class would somehow magically spread to other countries. Instead, the middle class in the US is dying and wealth inequality is our major export. We have gone from the idealistic Jimmy Carter to Mr. Pussy Grabber. Conservative media has gone from deep thinkers like William F. Buckley into the Tucker Carlson shallow end of stupid. No, I never saw that coming.

The other thing I think someone waking up today would be surprised at is the rise of social media. Again, I was idealistic to the point of silly. I honestly thought the Internet would be a good thing. Paper would be only rarely needed and serious thinkers would attract those of us with a thirst for knowledge. Instead, we have Marjorie Taylor-Green (R-GA) saying that the recent Solar Eclipse is a sign that America needs to repent. Thank you Facebook and X for helping us become better. Jewish Space Lasers everywhere owe you. In my opinion, Zuck should die in prison for what he has done to civilization. I’ve been awake the whole time and it’s depressing, someone just waking-up would most likely want to go back to sleep.