By Cecil Hoge
My father was a man of media. That was in our family blood. My grandfather had an advertising agency in New York City during the early 1900s. It was called Huber Hoge Inc. and it was specialized in handling advertising for some very large companies and some not so large companies, like Standard Oil, Meyrowitz Optical, Smith and Wesson among others. My grandfather specialized in an early form of direct marketing advertising. That meant he conducted direct mail programs for these companies to build brand awareness or convince the public that Standard Oil or Meyrowitz or Smith and Wesson were these friendly hometown companies providing oil and gas, eyeglasses and guns at the lowest possible price and the best value.
My grandfather was also a man of media. He took a particular interest in following photography, which was then in its early stages of development. So he was a member of the New York Camera Club and a patron of the famous “291” art gallery where Paul Westin and Alfred Stieglitz showed their photographs along with a wide variety of other artists, including Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keefe and others. He was an early subscriber to Alfred Stieglitz’s magazine, Camera Work. Photography was becoming an important part of advertising in those early days of marketing and my grandfather felt he had to follow the latest trends.
My grandfather taught my father and his other sons about the different forms of media of his day and about the unique brand of advertising that he was creating. And whatever he transferred to my father in knowledge and enthusiasm must have been very infectious because my father was a man of great enthusiasm and great optimism about the wonderful world of marketing and media. In my grandfather’s time, media consisted mostly of newspapers and magazines, but as 20th century advanced, it came to include radio, TV, cable and eventually the internet.
My grandfather’s advertising agency was successful in the 1920s and if you go back to old copies of something called Printer’s Ink, you can still find references to his advertising agency. In 1929, the whole family had moved to a very nice and very large house in Scarsdale, New York. Two years later, the depression forced my grandfather to close his advertising agency and the whole family had to move out of the big house in Scarsdale and come back to the city to find someplace to stay. Those years proved to be very difficult for the family.
My father, who had started his college career at the University of Virginia and had successfully passed through his first year, decided to come back home in the middle of second year. The depression was raging and my father felt it was his duty to give up college and partying and go to work.
“That was when your father put on the hair shirt,” said my uncle Francis. For those of you who do not know, putting on a hair shirt was a popular tradition in the Middle Ages when monks like to walk through towns whipping themselves on the back with chains and sharp, pointed steel balls. These same fellows, not content with bleeding to death, wore hair shirts in an effort to increase itching and to cleanse their souls while fleas bit their flesh and gave them the plague. You could say they were working out their frustrations. I am not quite sure how successful that system was.
So my father came back to New York City to pitch in and help the family finances and to learn how to earn an income. It must not have been an easy time in the depth of the depression. 25% of the population was unemployed, banks were failing everyday and his parents, my grand parents, were having to move from one grand apartment to another every 6 months for lack of funds. Fortunately, apartment buildings took a desperate view of the situation and decided it was better to let a good family pay almost no rent, at least for a short time, than to let crime ridden criminals and other low-lifes into the building at full rent. It was a period of strange principles.
My father got his marketing and advertising training by selling advertisements at a time when almost no advertisements were being bought. His first job was with The Sun, a New York paper that was started in 1834 and disappeared in 1950. At first, my father sold classified ads in The Sun. This was done mainly through telephone sales. If an account was a repeat advertiser and happened to be local, then my father might actually go to their place of business and try to sell them on more classified ads, person to person. Apparently, my father was fairly successful in this, even though he drew no actual salary and lived only on commissions. It seemed that the newspaper liked my father, and so he moved up to selling display ads. These were larger format ads usually with both words (copy as it is known in the trade) a pictures (art, as it euphemistically described).
That proved to be the beginning of a very long career for my father in advertising. He worked for The Sun for several years and then went on to sell advertising for the original Vanity Fair Magazine. That magazine was the scene of many an escapade. My father told me that it was run by a gentleman who was very fond of his drinks. Coming to the office and reporting sales successes or failures to this gentleman could be a very exciting and somewhat chaotic since the gentleman publisher was frequently in his cups. By 1936, that publication (the original Vanity Fair Magazine) disappeared. Times was tough during the depression, but my father was not discouraged.
My father told me if it was true that 25% of the working population had no jobs that meant it was also true that 75% of the working population had jobs.
“Hell,” my father said, “if 75% of people have jobs, there was no reason I cannot be in that 75%.”
I am not sure in this opioid addicted age that out of work folks today share my father’s enthusiasm or his same work ethic. No matter, after losing his job at Vanity Fair, my father went back to The Sun to sell more ads. Somehow, he and his family got through the depression years and survived physically and financially through that terrible period.
When World War II came along, everything changed.
“Suddenly,” my father said, “everyone had a job and the depression was over!”
And I guess it was so.
After the war, my father and his three brothers started an advertising agency which they named Huber Hoge and Sons. That agency, which had its offices at 699 Madison Avenue in New York City, enjoyed success and eventually grew to employ over 100 people. My father first specialized in newspaper and magazine advertising, but also became proficient in radio and TV advertising. So the media of the day included newspapers, magazines, radio and TV.
Over time, my father came to advertise his own products and in doing so he used all four of these media. When I came into the business we were selling a wide variety of the different products…pocket adding machines, ladies dress forms, paint brushes, Killer Joe Piro Dance lessons and fishing lures. While these products were wildly different, the one constant was my father’s adherence to advertising them. All were direct marketed through mail order advertising and most products were sold, one at a time, direct to the public.
When I came into the business, fishing lures had become the main part of the business, even though we continued to sell paint brushes, ladies dress forms and pocket adding machines. As time went on we found we could sell the fishing lures to retail and wholesale customers and that became, over time, the main business. And in the 1968, my father bought a little inflatable boat business and this also became a part of our sales. During my first years in the business, mail order was still the most important form of advertising.
As time went on and trade sales to retailers and wholesalers became more important, a part of our advertising was directed at promoting trade sales. This came primarily in the form of advertising in trade magazines and in running go to your dealer ads in newspapers. We did, from time to time, run TV and radio ads asking for people to send for a catalog or go to their dealer to actually buy our products. Throughout all these years, advertising was an ingrained value of the business and it was our belief that you had to promote products in order to successfully sell products.
In the 1970s my father backed away from our business and decided he wanted to be known what was then called a “mail order maven”. What was a “mail order maven”? In short, it was a person who knew a lot about the strange art of mail order.
What was so strange about mail order? You had to gamble money before you sold a product, sometimes even before you had a product. Few people had the confidence to do such a thing. However, if you did have the confidence, the belief and the starting money, it could be very, very rewarding. Perhaps, the most intriguing thing about mail order was the fact that you could start a business from zero and build it up to something substantial in a very short time. The key to that was having successful ad.
The only problem with having successful ads is that most ads failed. So that meant that you had to have something of a gambler’s spirit, understanding that 9 out of 10 times an ad failed, but sometimes, if the ad succeeded, it could bring very big rewards. And if you could look at your investment in mail order advertising as something of a gamble, realizing that most of the time the gamble would lose money and if you could be patient and try different things, you could occasionally find that mail order could be very profitable, very fast.
The trick to mail order was to lose little when you tested ads and to project big when you had a successful ad. It sounds simple, but in truth, like many things, it was tricky with it not always even being clear what was a successful ad. In many cases, you had to run several ads to truly understand whether an ad was truly profitable.
By the 1970s I had learned something of the strange art of mail order and, my father, sensing that I would never stand on my own in the business if not left to my own devices, kindly and altruistically backed out of our little family mail order business. That left me and stepmother to feud over the direction and shape of the business for the next 20 years. And that left my father plenty of time to become a true “mail order maven”.
How do you become a ” mail order maven”? You write several books on the “art” of mail order. That my father did. You interview and talk to almost all of the practitioners of this fine art, and that my father did. You go to conferences and meetings about mail order. That my father did.. You meet everyone who is anyone in the field. That my father did.
He, over time, became a recognized expert on the subject. And yes, my father was an expert on mail order and what was then being called direct marketing. His first book was called “Mail Order Moonlighting” and it turned out to be a kind of classic in the field. That was published by Ten Speed Press and within a few years, it had sold over one hundred thousand copies. My father went on to write several other books. Two other books – “Mail Order Know How” and “The First Hundred Years Are The Toughest”, one providing more pointers on how to get into the mail order business and the other chronicling the rise of Sears & Roebuck and the fall of Montgomery Ward, also enjoyed considerable success.
My father’s last book was called “The Electronic Marketing Manual”. This book, published by McGraw Hill, came out in 1993. It discussed new digital forms of marketing that were then coming into use. My father discussed CDs, magnetic tapes, e-mail transmission, electronic kiosks, telephone marketing and other forms of electronic marketing. Many of the things that my father predicted did not come true, but some did.
One of the things my father discussed in his book was online marketing. At the time, he called websites “online catalogs” because that is what they were known as at the time. In the direct marketing community, the internet was first foremost recognized as a simple extensions of print catalogs. Of course, websites were much more and became much more.
In the early 1990s, my brother, 29 years my younger, came into the business and became my partner. My brother had many ideas about transforming our business, not the least of which was to ditch the IBM 36 we had running our company records on and replacing it with a simpler software program and a collection of PCs to replace the old IBM 36 clunker. We had to have the “old clunker” hauled off to the dump because by that time no one wanted to buy a used IBM 36.
By 1995 we had a new PC based system, using a direct marketing and trade software program called Madi, to keep track of inquiries, orders, direct customers, trade customers, inventory and all other aspects of our business. That system, while completely re-written and re-designed, is still in place today.
As we moved into the early 1990s, our father was still a very active guy and while he did not direct our business, he still had a lot to say about what he thought would be good for our business. Having written an entire book on electronic marketing and several articles on the coming of the internet, he had some very strong opinions on what we should do. His absolute strongest opinion was that we should get on the internet. By 1994, a few companies were actually launching websites and my father came to the conclusion that this was the most exciting thing to happen in the last two centuries. Both my brother and I were somewhat more dubious about that opportunity.
We wondered, for example, why would anyone actually order from a computer screen? At the time, the majority (about 70%) of our “mail orders” were coming by telephone. The remainder of orders were coming the old-fashioned way, by the mail itself. It had taken almost 10 years to make the transition from physical mail orders to telephone orders, but that had happened.
My father was a very persistent man.
“You got to get on that God-damned internet,” was the way he put it time after time, morning, noon and night. The “God-damned” part of the description was really directed at us. He was frustrated with what he perceived as our incorrigible slowness. Now, in 1995, most companies did not have websites. Amazon.com was incorporated in 1994, but it’s website was not up and running until the spring of 1995. Very few smaller businesses, and we were most certainly a small business, had actually made a website and started selling online. It seemed a bold stretch for us to go forward and get on the internet.
Our father was still a very persistent man.
“Don’t you understand,” he would say, “This is just like the telegraph, just like the telephone, just like radio, just like TV…it is the new media that will change everything.”
My brother John and myself were not so sure. Yes, maybe it would be helpful and yes, maybe it would actually occasionally get orders.
In any case, in March of 1996, we listened to our father and we launched SeaEagle.com. Because we were afraid of scaring off trade customers and because we were dubious that anyone would actually order, we just put up a few product pages and an 800 number to call during office hours. We figured customers would naturally want to ask more questions and the best way to answer that need was to allow them to call us directly.
And certainly, in that year, it did work. Customers did call in and customers did ask questions and customers did order. By the end of the year, we figured out that we had over $50,000 of orders from our SeaEagle.com website. This was not a significant part of our business, but it was enough to get our attention.
We thought the $50,000+ of new-found business was terrific. After all, the only thing required to set up a website, was some basic computer knowledge, some time, and my brother was able to provide both.
Our father did not think it was terrific.
“Why don’t you have an order page, you need a God-damned order cart. That’s what they call it”
Whenever my father thought he was dealing with a slow tool from a shed of slow tools, he used the adjective “God-damned”. He really did not mean to take the Lord’s name in vain and most of the time, he was a quiet spoken guy, extremely well-mannered, a true gentleman, but sometimes, when he got agitated or excited or frustrated the “God-damns” would come out.
“I spoke with that fellow Bezos, he uses an order cart. He told me you got to have a God-damned order cart.”
At the time, Amazon.com was just a website starting to sell books and Jeff Bezos, who perhaps always knew he was destined for fame and infinite wealth, was kind enough to take my father’s call and give an interview.
“Amazon is going like hell,” my father said.
That was another phrase my father used, “going like hell”. In his mind, “going like hell” was the ultimate compliment. It meant things were moving. It meant there was activity. It meant there was promotion going on. And in my father’s mind, there was nothing more interesting than promotion going on. In truth, he found the state of our business as completely boring. Yes, it was profitable. Yes, there were sales and some activity. But there was no real activity in the sense of active and aggressive promotion, just boring year after year sales and profits.
Well, my brother and I were not so sure about the internet thing. Yes, we could see that we were generating some orders, but was it a first time blip or was it the future?
Our father’s persistence and insistence drove us to expand the website and to put up the God-damned order cart. And for while, we had internal debate. Would people actually use the order cart? Would they order without asking questions first, would they order at night? These were the questions my brother and myself asked ourselves. My father of course had no questions about that. It was obvious to him that we needed to get the God-damned order cart up and start accepting orders directly online.
And so we did. And it took only about two weeks to learn my father and Jeff Bezos were right. We were surprised to find that in the second year we sold $326,000 of boats on the internet. And yes, people often did order without calling and asking a bunch of questions. And yes, people often did order a night. Who knew?
That was the beginning of the internet becoming a big part of our business. Every year thereafter, our internet sales grew. That is true to this day.
Today, we are still a relatively small business, but the internet has become an increasingly important part of our business. It represents about 50% of our total sales, 60% if you add phone orders coming over our internet based phone system. I am speaking of firect orders that came, one at a time, from individual consumers And if we thought about it, almost all of the remaining sales also came through the internet because we use something SPS Commerce to accept trade orders and almost all of those trade orders also get transmitted through the internet. So, in truth, we are almost 100% an internet based company. Yes, occasionally we still get a fax and actually have to manually input the order.
All the above is a way of saying that we have some knowledge about both the beginnings and the strengths of the internet. And all of the above leads me to thinking about what the future of the internet might be…not only the about its past history of constant growth, but also about its possible weaknesses and problems going forward.
One of things recently discussed about the internet is “net neutrality”. This is a fairly simply phrase that means that all people on internet, whether they be individuals, small companies, large companies, small organizations or large organizations, small countries or large countries, enjoy equal access to the internet. It may interest you to know that as I was writing this blog story, the FCC has just voted to repeal “net neutrality”.
For those of you who may not be following this somewhat arcane subject, “net neutrality” was repealed as of December 14th, 2017, by a 3 to 2 vote of the FCC. Ajit Pai, the new FCC chairman appointed by the Trump Administration, has announced that the FCC should not be in the business of “micromanaging the internet”. So, it will now be legally possible for the great internet providers, Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and a few other really large companies to charge higher or lower fees for faster or slower speeds on the internet. In addition, they will be able to “throttle down” (translation: slow down) the speeds of existing websites.
I worry about that. I think that is dangerous. I think that opens the door for larger companies to have faster internet speeds which they can easily pay for while smaller internet companies will either have to pay far more for the existing internet speeds they have or may be forced to accept far slower speeds on their websites. This, I think, could be harmful to smaller companies. In particular, this possibility could also prevent new companies from launching new businesses on the internet simply because they do not have the money to do so.
One of the extraordinary aspects of the advent of the internet is that it gave many new companies a new way to start their businesses. And it certainly gave many existing small companies like ourselves a way to have new business that otherwise they would not have. That may not be true in the future. It may be that the necessity of having fast internet access on your website may not be affordable. It may be that an internet provider might decide to slow down or halt the transmission of different websites, either for economic reasons or for content reasons.
I think the same huge internet providers that are able to charge higher prices for higher internet speeds could also use pricing as a weapon to discriminate against certain companies that they do not want to able to compete. Worse still, I think this power, the power to charge more or less for faster of slower transmission speeds, could also be used to stop or slow down websites that the government or someone in the government does not approve of.
Call me paranoid, if you will, but I think the end of “net neutrality” allows huge internet providers and possibly governments to discriminate by pricing and to literally “slow down” certain media or messages that either compete with their interests or that they simply do not like. I also feel the government or someone in the government could easily exert pressure on a large internet provider, let’s say a company like Verizon, and quietly suggest that some media organization, let’s say Fox News, should not be permitted to have the same internet speeds as perhaps another media concern, let’s say, CNN. Of course, given the present political climate I doubt these two examples are likely, but maybe, the reverse might be possible.
No matter, let’s just say that I am worried that the end of “net neutrality” could also “slow down” or block a free press. Moreover, in this environment, I think the individuals are also at risk. Perhaps, the speeds of e-mail could also be adjusted, according to the perceived views of a user or sender. Think of the possibilities. They are almost endless.
Call me paranoid, if you will, but I would note that Andrew Grove, one of the founders of Intel, wrote: “Only the paranoid survive.”
So I will remain paranoid.
What will the end of “net neutrality” mean. I think it could mean the corruption of the internet itself. Imagine the many ways the internet effects and controls our lives today. Imagine what it might happen if some company or some government could arbitrarily control the speed of your internet access. What if it took you 10 minutes to load a web page you were interested in. What if your bank’s website took an hour to let you know how much money you had in your accounts? What if the New York Times took two hours to come up.
Admittedly, these are extreme examples of possibilities that I hope would never happen. But one thing is true if internet provider can slow down or speed up the loading speeds of an individual website, people will probably go to the faster websites and not go to the slower websites. I would call that the not the end of “net neutrality”, but the literal corruption of the internet itself.
To be fair, not everyone thinks the end of “net neutrality” is a bad thing. My brother, for example, thinks it will not have a big effect on our business. That is because he tells me that most of our data usage is taken up by videos and all our videos are hosted by YouTube. That would transfer that part of the problem to YouTube, which being owned by Google, is theoretically a large enough company to defend itself from an AT&T or Verizon or Comcast or some other large provider.
The next biggest usage of data on a website, besides videos, is photos. Our photos are hosted by a local internet company on our own company server. The space or data usage taken up by photos is far, far less than videos, which require very large bandwidth to load promptly and smoothly. My brother does not think the space or data usage taken up by our photos is significant enough to alter greatly our actual internet costs. And he points out, if they did, we could always move the photos to some really large cloud provider, like Microsoft or Amazon.
The last usage of significant space on a website is the actual html programming of our actual software running the website. This is minimal in comparison to the data usage taken up by either photos or pictures, but it is something that you need. In any case, my brother feels that we are not apt to personally be affected by the end of “net neutrality”.
I am willing to concede that my worries about this issue probably have more chance of affecting other companies…either new startups who find the cost of launching their new business is far too expensive, or existing media competitors of some of the really large internet providers, who also happen to also own competing media companies.
A couple of more points about “net neutrality” before I move on to even more paranoid concerns. Even though “net neutrality” was repealed just recently, it will be a long time before the demise of “net neutrality” actually takes place. For one thing, there will be a number of legal challenges brought against the repeal and that could reverse the repeal. For another, Congress could pass a law requiring that there be equal access and equal speeds available to all, whether they be simple consumers, small companies or truly gigantic companies. Finally, even if the repeal of “net neutrality” is upheld, it will probably take years for the true long-term effects to known and understood.
Finally, before moving on to more apocalyptic concerns, in an effort to be truly fair to this issue, I must mention that the Chairman of the FCC, Adjit Pai claims that the end of “net neutrality” will actually allow companies to more easily compete. The Wall Street Journal has also just written an editorial that echoes this opinion saying the end of “net neutrality” will clear the way for more competition and more innovation, freeing the FCC of being “a gatekeeper”. So there are legitimate opinions out there the repeal of “net neutrality” will actually make the internet better and allow more competition.
I do not buy that theory. My gut tells me this move is about power and control of the internet itself. I believe inevitably, if “net neutrality” is really ended, the internet will be less free, less innovative and subject to monopoly type pricing and possibly subject to governmental discrimination. And if that does happen, I would call that the corruption of the internet.
I now want to move on to other concerns about the internet – namely, the disruption of the internet itself. Early on, the internet was developed as a “could not fail system” wherein it was said you might be able to bring down a small part of the internet for a short time, but, you would never, never, ever be able to bring down the entire internet itself.
Call me paranoid, but I disagree! I think it could be brought in a number of ways.
I would ask you simply to type in on Google the words “The Great Blackout”. You may be surprised to be confronted with a list:
- The Great Northeast Blackout of 1965 – that occurred on November 9th, 1965, when portions of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ontario (Canada), Rhode Island, Vermont and New Jersey were without power for 13 hours, affecting 30,000,000 people. That resulted in 30,000,000 people being without any electrical power for 13 hours. Now the internet did not go dark then because there was no internet – other than an internal government internet system.
- The Great Blackout of 1977 – that blackout only affected New York City and some surrounding areas. It lasted for 2 days, July 13th & 14th, 1977. Some 10,000,000 people were affected and were without any electrical power. Again, this was before “the internet” existed as we know. And while the first e-mail transmission was sent out successfully in 1971, it general use did not become popular until the 1990s.
- The Great Blackout of 2003 – that blackout was the widest known blackout in the U.S., affecting North Eastern and MidWestern states. I would note it did affect cellular, e-mail and internet connections. So, not only did the electrical grid go down, but also cell phone and internet service and the ability to send e-mails. This blackout occurred August 14th, 2003 and affected 10,000,000 people in Ontario, Canada and 45,000,000 in the U.S.
I would like to note that these blackouts do not include blackouts that have been caused fairly regularly on a local basis by hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, lightning or simple thunderstorms.
Now, it turns out that I have a friend who may be more paranoid than me. His name is Ron Foster, and his concern is a solar storm. He tells me sooner or later a solar storm is going to hit us and it will knock out the internet and all electrical connections, frying computer chips in everything from cars to toasters to microwaves to computers to cell phones. Not only is it going to knock out the internet, it is going to knock out our entire electrical grid. And it will not just be the Northeast or the Midwest, it will not just be the just the good old USA. No, the solar storm that Ron says is coming is going to knock out the electrical grid across the whole world.
Ron tells me we have been hit by solar storms in the past. In fact, in 1859, Ron tells me that we were hit by something called the “Carrington Event”. Now that solar storm (you can Google it) did not cause great damage for the simple reason there was no widespread electric grid to go down and the internet had not been invented. Apparently, there was another solar storm in 2012 that could have done a lot of damage, but luckily that solar storm missed the planet and did not cause widespread damage.
Anyway, Ron is a “prepper” – someone who prepares for catastrophic events. I got to know Ron when he called me up and told me he wanted to use one of our inflatable boats on the cover of one of his books. It is Ron’s opinion that our boats make great “bugout boats”. That is the term that preppers use to refer to vehicles that allow them to “bug out” safely when the lights go out and Google doesn’t Google. Ron has now written 3 books with our boats on the cover as the perfect “bugout” vehicles.
I do not know how much our boats may help you in the catastrophe that Ron has in mind – I worry someone might steal your “bugout” boat when you are not looking. Nor do I know when the next solar storm is going to hit us. It could be next week, it could be next year, it could be next century. It could be in 6,702 years.
In any case, that is not all that I worry about. “One Second After” is a book written by William R. Forstchen. It describes another possible catastrophe – one where a EMP (electro magnetic pulse) is emitted by a nuclear explosion over part of the U.S. and it goes on to describe the chaos that comes from such an event. This book features a foreword by Newt Gingrich who writes that this is a highly plausible event.
I do not know if Newt is correct, but I do know that as recently as a couple of months ago, Kim Jun Un threatened to set off a nuclear bomb over some American city to make the whole country go dark. I do not know how serious young Kim is about that, but I offer it up as evidence that there may be several ways for the internet could go dark.
Above you will see another guy who might have the evil intention to bring down the internet. The guy above, a hacker for sure, might have such an intention. My guess is that he would not bring down the whole internet, figuring that it would be a lot more profitable to bring down some part of it, like, for example, a major airport or the northeast electrical grid or our President’s Twitter feed. Finally, I am thinking he would leave up a lot of the internet up because what would he have to do if was the internet was completely down? He is, after all, a computer geek and what good is a computer geek without the internet?
Me, I am more worried about World War III and laser beams. The way I figure it, there are only so many cans circling the globe. Those cans, aka “satellites”, provide the internet to the whole world and if a war did break out, it is my guess that some power – I cannot say or guess who – China, Russia, the U.S., India, Israel, Iran, England, France, North Korea – who knows – there are so many to choose from – but some power might seek to eliminate some other power’s access to the internet. And if I was betting man, I would suggest that laser beams would prove pretty damn effective in knocking down those cans. I might mention that satellites orbit this earth anywhere from 120 miles above the earth to 1200 miles above the ground, so they are not that far away. My theory is if you can shoot down a plane, you can shoot down a satellite.
So, to summarize: I think there are many ways that both our electrical grid and the internet could be knocked out and I do not know if that is a comet (in which case we will not need to worry because we and the planet will also be knocked out), or a solar storm or a super hurricane or a nuclear explosion during the outbreak of World War III or laser beams from a third world country.
Whatever the event, if something did knock out the internet, you can say bye, bye to Google, bye, bye to Amazon, bye, bye to your bank account, bye, bye to cell phones, bye, bye to reality TV – hey, it might not be so bad after all.
It is interesting to note at this point how right my father was about the internet. In fact, I think even he would have been surprised by how much the internet has crept into our daily life. I know as a relatively small business with 25 or so employees, how important that internet really is to our business. We process all our orders, we approve all credit cards, we deposit all checks, we print picking tickets, we print labels, we notify Fedex and UPS when we need more trucks, ship containers from and to China, England, Korea, Italy, Germany and yes, the good old USA. In short, it would be very difficult to survive a true disruption of the internet.
Presuming we actually lived through such an event and we were not attacked by either Zombies or starving citizens or maddened criminals, I do have an idea how our business would survive. We would go back to old-time mail order, back to the time my father was processing $50,000 of orders a week, opening envelopes, licking stamps, depositing paper checks, hand writing labels, walking or running or bicycling to the bank. Yes, we would do it the old-fashioned way, the way our Dad taught us how to do.
Of course, I would hope someone else could get analog phone lines, central heating, washing machines, automobiles and the AC going.
Let’s hope that the internet remains in place, up and running, faster, and better than ever, without corruption or disruption.
I have written a book about the history of Tudor City that will be published by The History Press in Fall 2019. I believe your grandfather’s ad agency produced ads for the Fred French Companies, the developer of Tudor City, in the late 1920s. I’ve seen quite a few in the New York Times archives, and they are terrific.
Do you know if there is an archive of his print ads and, if so, whether I can include some in my book? It would be a great legacy for your grandfather.
Please let me know, many thanks.
p.s. great blog!
Dear Mr. Samuel,
Thank you for your kind comments and for the information about my grandfather. I do not know if there is any archive of his print ads and certainly I have no copies of those ads since it was quite before my time. I would love to see some the ads my grandfather ran for Tudor City.