Everyone1 needs a hobby; something to stave off the boredom.
In my early teens (for reasons lost in the mists of time) I got into the habit of listing my growing (mostly) paperback (initially largely science fiction) collection. But, being basically an idiot, I wrote my (sorted, naturally) lists in books, and forever faced the problems of handling additions, only partially solved by precisely the same methods used when I was programming disk access on ICL 1900 Series machines ten years later. (Yet to come would be the further problems outlined by Anne Fadiman in her wonderful essay Marrying Libraries from Ex Libris.)
Having independently discovered there was no reason not to have my own card index, I switched over my listing technology, and (for reasons lost in the mists of time) simultaneously introduced a laborious four-colour code. (Yet to come would be the problems outlined by Nicholson Baker in his 4 April 1994 essay Discards in the New Yorker, reprinted in The Size of Thoughts.) Still, the backs of many of these cards have since done sterling service as domestic shopping lists and cassette tape box inlays over the last three decades.
Eventually I came into contact with computers (great hulking mainframes initially, in 1969) not to mention line printers, dot-matrix printers, inkjets, bubblejets, and laser printers, and saw certain possibilities therein...
My first, all uppercase, computerised booklist appeared on greenline paper in my living room in 1977, rather to the annoyance of my squash partner (the computer's owner) who was paying me for something completely different, and Christa, who found the 150 cps late night impact noise tiresome.
Evidence of my bibliophilic streak
Said streak (some might say obsession, I guess) includes:
- A German edition of Catch-22 read by my mother-in-law before my wife
- The first US edition of the Guinness Book of Superlatives from a second hand bookshop in Penn
- A bound volume of Punch from 1860 — a gift from a paternal aunt, long-deceased
- Harlan Ellison's second volume of TV criticism (The Other Glass Teat), largely suppressed by one Spiro T Agnew
- The hilarious Brewer's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics — R.I.P. William Donaldson (aka Henry Root)
- Not to mention various sublime ramblings of Charles Babbage — on a par with Richard Feynman
- Or multiple copies of varied editions of Kai Lung stories by Ernest Bramah — once Jerome K Jerome's secretary