The beginning of the e-book?


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I recently read an old paperback of Stuart Woods’, Run Before the Wind.  I quite often have mysterious books turn up, that I don’t recall owning, borrowing, or purchasing.  I’m okay with this.  I figure it might be a trade for the socks that go missing in the dryer.

It’s not a bad little mystery/adventure, and the writing doesn’t feel as dated as many books written in the eighties.  Have you noticed that?  Most eighties’ books scream eighties.  References to boom boxes, break dancing, Michael Jackson – it was an era in love with itself.  The books practically have mullets.  But I digress.

What really caught my eye was a little note in the back of the book.  I will reproduce it for you here, in its entirety:


For those writers who might be interested, this book was written on a PolyMorphic 8813 microcomputer using a word processing program written by Frank Stearns Associates of Vancouver, Washington, then all the necessary changes were made in the computer.  Using file transmission software prepared by Bob Bybee of Polyletter, the final manuscript was then transmitted over telephone lines to the Source Telecomputing Corporation, which sent it on IBM-compatible magnetic tape to ComCom, which then set the book in type directly from the tape.  This procedure both saved time over the usual method of retyping the manuscript into the typesetting machine, and prevented a new generation of typographical errors.

This is, to my knowledge, the first time a novel has been transmitted electronically from its author’s computer to a typesetting computer.  There were many technical snags to overcome, and I must here give my heartfelt thanks to my friend, Mark Sutherland, who so generously gave his time and expertise to solve these problems.  It was worth the trouble, and I believe that in the future, books will be routinely transmitted in this manner.

This was in 1983.  We’ve come a long way, baby.


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Filed under Books, E-Books, E-readers, Review

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