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This essay traces J. M. Coetzee's employment in the computer industry in the 1960s, arguing that this experience influenced his understanding of literature and the writing process. Drawing on his archives, the essay examines Coetzee's programming work and generation of computer poetry. It places his scholarly interest in literary impressionism and stylostatistics in this practical context and outlines his early engagement in the field of humanities computing. One of the major results of his programming experiences was the development of a platform of what I call "aesthetic automatism," or the redeployment of modernist formalism in an age of computation.