Abstract: This is a talk about the role of influential people and important factors in the design and implementation of mathematics curricula, past and present. Three historical examples of mathematics curricula are described. The Leiden Engineering School in the 17th century and the Foundation of Renswoude in the 18th century aimed to educate mathematical professionals such as surveyors, (military) engineers and mathematics teachers. The HBS (Higher School for Citizens) in the 19th century had as its aims preparation for higher positions in industry, commerce and administration and preparation for the Polytechnic School in Delft. A comparison with an example of the development of a present-day mathematics curriculum in secondary education suggests that through the ages some of the same factors and actors were influential, however, in the modern case their influence appears to be more negative.