“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” – H.P. Lovecraft, American author of horror, fantasy, poetry and sci-fi, 1890-1937

Well, if anyone would know about fear, it’s a writer who specializes in horror stories and the like. He had a point, too. The unknown can be scary. What got me thinking along these lines was a 1966 news story I came across in Pool News, as Pool & Spa News used to be called.

“Don’t Fear Automation,” the headline urged. It was the theme of a talk by John Girvan of Tesco Chemicals, based in Atlanta. Speaking at a chapter meeting of the Swimming Pool Association of Southern California, he said that many pool servicepeople thought automation might eliminate their jobs. Actually, Girvan said, it would have the opposite effect. “As you become more of a technician with more extensive training, you can demand more money,” he said. “Automation can make the industry more technical and, if handled correctly by independents, can help them.”

Here we are, 47 years later, and service technicians are not just going out on their routes every day, cleaning pools, emptying baskets and generally checking on things. Thanks to industry education programs, they are knowledgeable about pool and spa automation equipment -- and with computers, mobile devices and remote management services, they can monitor the bodies of water in their care any time via the Internet. There’s also software designed for the industry that service techs, retailers and builders can and do use to more efficiently run their businesses.

We’ve come a long way, baby.