Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Classic Hits, Then and Now

By Helene Ragovin

From Harry Potter to Hannah from Montana, the Class of 2014 shows how the world has changed

Tufts 2010 matriculation

Members of the Class of 2014 at Matriculation. Photo: Winslow Martin

Most of the students in the Class of 2014 were born in 1991 and 1992. For some of their professors and others on campus, that might seem like just yesterday—but the world has definitely changed since then, in ways big and small.

Easily the most recognizable name among the first-year students is a New Hampshire youth named Harry Potter. But when this Harry was born, the fictional wizard existed in no place other than J.K. Rowling’s imagination—it would not be until 1997 that the first Harry Potter novel was published. The most popular kids’ book in 1992 was the first installment of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series.

The class also includes a Hannah from Montana—which, aside from the rhyme, did not mean anything special in the early ’90s. Back then, the coolest act was New Kids on the Block.

Another member of the Class of ’14 is a singer-songwriter who performs on the New York music scene and whose music is available on iTunes. In 1992, of course, iTunes and iPods didn’t exist—but it was the year Sony introduced the now mostly forgotten Minidisc, a portable digital audio player.

One new Jumbo has won the New Mexico State Fair contest for “Best Scones and Danish.” Scones weren’t particularly trendy in the early ’90s—but you could probably find a lot of oat bran muffins and fat-free snack cakes, which capitalized on two of the health-food crazes of the day.

Another incoming student is interested in exploring security issues in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. Those republics were just coming into being as independent nations in 1991 and 1992. (Officially, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR voted to dissolve itself on December 26, 1991.)

A student from Shanghai has a patent pending for a light-up umbrella; another, from Utah, has created a parabolic solar oven. In the early 1990s, some of the big news in technology included the introduction of the Pentium processor and the advent of the second generation of cell phones. Ridiculously large by today’s standards, those phones could, at least, fit into a large purse or a glove compartment.

The Class of 2014 includes a member of both the U.S. and Dutch national sailing teams; a two-time national and North American sailing champion; the Nevada alpine ski champion; the New England amateur champion in disc golf; a member of the Palestinian national equestrian team and a member of the Turkish national snowboard team. In 1992, the sports highlights of the year included the Summer Olympics in Barcelona, with the appearance of U.S. basketball’s Dream Team, and the Winter Olympics in Albertville, France—back in the days when both summer and winter games were played in the same year.

Helene Ragovin can be reached at

Posted September 01, 2010