Trying to keep up with Ladybird Tuesday whilst homeschooling defeated me. Quite simply not enough hours in the day. My eldest two were waved off back through the school gates with a big smile yesterday morning though, so today I’ve finally had time to breathe again and spend some time looking through my Ladybird collection.
The most appropriate book to write about this week would probably have been Going to School, from Series 563. If only I’d had it in my collection.
Instead I’ve gone for a title that is wildly out of date, but one that covers what we’ve all been depending on for the last few months of homeschooling – The Computer.
Part of the How it works series (series 654) The Computer was originally published in 1971, but the version I have is actually dated 1979 inside. Whilst the book was written by David Carey, there is also a note inside my version stating that new material in this edition was prepared by James Blythe. Bearing in mind how many Ladybird books were previously changed in some way or reprinted without any further dates on them than the original copyright date it’s interesting to see this title treated differently.
So much of what is included seems historic now, but actually the book contains some excellent basics physics and also some information that I covered in my first year of a computer science degree course. Elements like shift registers, address systems, machine code and compilers are all basics that haven’t fundamentally changed, no matter how complex computers have since become.
The page on how magnetic tapes is perfect example of how the technology is no longer used at all, but it’s still one of those fundamental bits of physics that anyone working with computers should probably still learn about.
It’s almost comical to read the section talking about the different industries that computers are used in with no mention at all of education after millions of school children around the world have used it daily for their schooling for a large part of the last year. Also, the page that covers teleprocessing is as close as they got in 1979 to imagining how the Internet might be formed. Quite how we would have handled a global pandemic without the Internet is a sobering thought.
There’s a story that says that the Ministry of Defence ordered several hundred copies of The Computer to give to staff in the 1970s to help them understand this new technology. Apparently they were issued with all mentions of Ladybird removed so that staff weren’t upset about the idea of being given a children’s book to learn from. As far as I know, no versions have ever been seen. Does that mean it didn’t exist? Or maybe it’s sat in an MOD store somewhere?
About Ladybird Tuesday
Ladybird Tuesday is a regular feature here on Penny Reads, where I delve into my Ladybird book collection and choose a title to share with my readers. The weekly series originally started on my old blog, Being Mrs C, and this post originally appeared on there. I’m now in the process of moving all those posts over to Penny Reads and also adding titles that I have acquired since then. A list is currently being compiled here of all the titles I have in my collection.