Christopher Burns started his career as assistant to the Director of the Yale University Press, and at the Director’s suggestion, enrolled in IBM’s new course on the fundamentals of computing, intended to train professional programmers and systems analysts. The thought was that one day computer technology might have an effect even on publishing, and a young person should know about these things. During his years at the Yale Press, he wrote a major industry study on computerized production technologies and built the first database of books for the Yale Co-op bookstore. Years later, he designed the Onyx database of book data now used by Amazon and publishers around the world.
In the spring of 1968, after graduating from Army Officer Candidate School, he was assigned as chief of computer operations at a secure communications center serving the White House, the Pentagon, and other classified organizations on the East Coast. Then, as Command Information Officer for the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam, he led a detachment of reporters and photographers putting out a weekly newspaper, a monthly magazine, and two books, one of which was later named the best Army publication of the year.
On his return, he joined the Harvard University Press where he launched the new Harvard Paperback series. He was later recruited by Arthur D. Little, Inc., a well-known Cambridge research and consulting firm, and began a long practice in the future of new information technologies, office automation, and online publishing. As a consultant and large-scale systems designer, he led the development of digital publishing systems for United Nations headquarters, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the governments of the U.S., Ireland, and Iran, as well as dozens of the country’s largest corporations.
In 1980, he went to the Washington Post Company as Vice President/Planning, still focusing on the future of computer technology and the media. And from there he moved to the management side as Senior Vice President (general manager) of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune. After three years he returned to systems design and technology consulting with his own practice, and for the next 25 years followed the rise of the internet and the birth of digital information services, deeply involved in the development of new online networks for several governments and most of the major companies in the information industry sector. He spent a year as Executive Editor of UPI, the worldwide news service, and served on the boards of the Information Industry Association and several information industry startups.
Mr. Burns has two patents on online information technology, covering the field of consumer networks and the emerging Internet of Things. In the last few years, he has turned primarily to writing, having published Deadly Decisions (Prometheus), The Seashell Anthology of Great Poetry (Random House), Vietnam Album, a history of the war, The New Old Age (Seashell Press), Immortal Poets (another anthology of poetry with history and biographies), and several novels.