In about 1973 our school became the proud possessor of its first computer. It weighed a ton and whirred and clicked like a steam engine. The only game you could play on it was hangman and there was no risk of repetitive strain injury as you spent 10 minutes waiting for it to complete tasks for every two spent tapping on the keyboard.

For our various nieces and nephews, who no doubt knew the difference between a DIB and a dongle while still in their buggies, the latest computer developments hold no surprises. But for the rest of us who lived through those pioneering times, they still induce a sense of wonderment.

Software advances for the timber trade featured in our special focus this week are a case in point. Gone are the days when computer systems used by the industry were mere tools for order processing and stock control. Today wood sector-specific software covers everything from truck loading, to waste packaging management.

The yard team can use hand-held devices to keep tabs on stock movements, while sales reps on the road can log into the central computer via their laptops. And all this while the software copes with the idiosyncrasies of products sold in a myriad of measurements and load types. Computerisation is impacting on joinery and timber construction too, with systems available to assist in the design and production of everything from staircases to whole timber frame houses.

Clearly the timber sector generally is increasingly up to speed with the latest in IT and this was further highlighted at the TTJ Awards this week when Eleco won the inaugural Best Technical Information Support category. Its entry included a CD-Rom technical guide which uses 02C 3D visualisation software to allow the user to view its Ecojoist product from any angle at the twitch of a mouse. It’s pretty amazing now: back in 1973 it would have knocked our fashionably stripey socks off.

And to close, just to say congratulations once more to Eleco and all the other winners and runners-up in this year’s Awards.