As well as meticulously researching the material necessary for his novels, Bagley also explored different ways he could put the words down on paper. Nowadays we think nothing of firing-up our favourite word-processing software and banging out a letter or email, but back in the 70’s and early 80’s the choice was more limited – and rather more expensive.

Keen on science and technology of all kinds the author enjoyed reading books and magazines explaining the (then) latest advances in computer technology. After suffering a very bad angina attack in 1973 he determined he wasn’t going to let the IT revolution pass him buy and set about researching what machines available he could best make use of.

One of the earliest computers he bought was probably a Hewlett-Packard HP 9830. This machine was just able to be used as a word-processor but it is more likely that Bagley indulged his interest in mathematics with it. The display was a simple red LED array of 32 alphanumeric characters. For data storage it used a primitive tape-drive. At the time its revolutionary advance was holding it’s operating-system in permanent Read Only Memory (ROM) instead of needing to be loaded on-board at each switch-on. To enable some creativity a version of the BASIC programming language was included which would allow the author to devise his own uses for the machine, which in outward appearance was of a large, heavy electric typewriter.

Another major advance for the author was the acquisition of a goliath of a word-processor – the Xerox 850 – in the early 80’s. This machine was also pretty revolutionary in its day offering a full-page screen of 102 lines of 70 characters, in portrait A4 format, white-on-black or black-on-white. The monitor was separate from an under-desk base-station in a similar set-up to modern PCs, although on a larger scale. The printer was probably a daisy-wheel type that dominated the desk. Most corporations worth their salt would have secretaries working away on these machines but it was rare for a private individual to buy one. These machines were primarily word-processors but they included two 8-inch floppy disk-drives for data and external programme storage. I’ve seen screen-shots of a similar computer in action and think the included software was very similar in appearance to LocoScript, for any of you out there who might remember this venerable institution from their Amstrad WP days!

Bagley was left-handed and typed with just the middle finger of his left hand.