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A Christmas present to E&T readers: your first ever bonus paperless issue

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There's no better time than the holidays to download the E&T app and relax with our special extra digital-only issue, free to subscribers and IET members. Or everyone can read the content here online.

It’s our first ever paperless issue and we have some festive special features to help you relax. How about the science of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? We visit the R&D labs of Willy Wonka to find out how they’re getting on with everything from everlasting gobstoppers to lickable wallpaper. 

The Victorian age was one of invention and it was that time that gave us today's popular idea of a cosy, family, fireside Christmas with a log on the fire and a roast on the table. Victorians invented the Christmas card and despite emails, instant messaging and e-cards, we’re still sending millions of them every year – with one interesting difference. Today, you have to post your card around four days before Christmas day for it to arrive in time. Back in the Victorian age - before post codes, automatic letter sorting or motorised transport - the last posting date was, believe it or not, Christmas Eve. That’s just one of the facts in our Christmas then and now feature by Jade Taylor-Salazar.

This issue is paperless in more ways than one. The paperless office was one of those sci-fi-like promises of a shiny, bright future we used to hear about in the early days of microcomputers.

Those of us who are old enough to remember the paperless promise have by now put it in the same mental filing cabinet along with those worries about what we were going to do with all of our extra leisure time that computers would give us, or how automation would one day take all our jobs so we’d have nothing left but leisure time. Well, OK, that one never really went away but the others have been filed in the ‘whatever happened to?’ category.

Ironically, the computer age first led to a lot more paper in offices as workers felt the need to print everything out and it became so easy – if very noisy, with those early dot-matrix printers that required their own dedicated sound-proofed box to muffle the sound. As we can see from our historical graph in that article, paper use is at last declining, which may be long overdue, but is unsurprising given email, spreadsheets, word processing, the web and all the other digital tools that can now all be stored in one tiny computer in your pocket.

The paperless office has turned out to be more evolution than revolution. Welcome then to our first digital-only edition available in the E&T app and online. It’s an extra bonus issue of E&T and it’s our first ‘paper-free’ issue in content as well as format.

Paper has proved more resilient than expected in so many contexts (and not just magazines). Josh Loeb looks at the controversies where government has tried to introduce a cashless economy, doing away with notes and coins. Vitali Vitaliev visits a venue trying to do away with paper tickets, which has also been controversial enough for some people to write strongly-worded letters to the newspapers about how they refuse to be forced into buying mobile phones. Is paper just a bad habit and could breaking it transform business? Nick Smith talks to management guru Freek Vermeulen, about his new book Breaking Bad Habits, and to Steve Carter of Apter Development about how going paperless can change the way we work.

Some things just don’t seem right without paper. See if you agree with our top ten of the last things likely to go paperless. It’s all in our special Christmas bonus paperless issue available now here online. There’s also a little more in the version in our E&T app, available on the iTunes and Google Play stores and it too is free to members. 

E&T will be taking a break from Christmas Eve, but we’ll be back again in the New Year.

Happy Christmas to all our readers.

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