I learned to drive in an unmissable Texas Yellow Volkswagen Variant back in the 1970s. I remember that car because (as well as being a surprisingly fast-for-the-time fuel-injected 1600) my dad bought it new in 1971 when he co-wrote a book on business computing with his former colleague Edward Lowe.
Recently, in a rare (there’s lots to keep us copywriters in Gloucestershire busy) idle moment, I did an Amazon search for the book. I was delighted to find copies of Computer Control in Process Industries on the Internet bookseller that I use to increase my writing knowledge, as well as an entry in Google Books. Copies in the UK and North America started at £0.01. I bought one for my technology-mad nephew in Germany – a nice reminder of what his late grandfather once wrote.
I’m sure I got some of my interest in writing from Dad. As a university lecturer and researcher, he was always penning something – whether it was lectures for his students, this book, or information about the wave-power energy research he did later in the 1970s. It must have rubbed off and helped to shape the interests and skills that subsequently led me into my copywriting career. It’s a shame, however, that Dad died before I set up my own freelance copywriting business. I hope he’d have been proud of what I’ve achieved since 2006.
My search for his book prompted me to take a look through my own copy. Even a quick scan of the index highlights the hugely changed world that we occupy. It’s a world where IT and the Internet determine large chunks of my work. It struck me as interesting that Dad was already writing about business computing when ARPANET, the prototype for the Internet, was just a year or so old. And as for Messrs Gates, Joy, Jobs and other shapers of the online world we now live and work in? There isn’t a mention of them, or their subsequent companies in the book. Hardly surprising, given that a teenage Bill Gates was still burning the midnight oil and developing his coding skills at CCC while dad and his co-writer penned their book at the end of the 1960s.
The computing environments described in Computer Control in Process Industries have changed beyond recognition since 1971. What’s more, the chapter titled ‘The Future’ only hints at the massive changes that have taken place over the following four decades. What struck me most of all was how, thanks to technology that’s evolved since that yellow VW turned up on our drive, I can now locate copies of Dad’s work around the world. And thanks to Google Books, parts at least of the book’s contents should be online for ever.
Oh yes. It’s interesting when you go back and explore the roots of your career as a Gloucestershire copywriter.