How tech journalism got its start
Fast Company has published an excerpt of Glen Rifkin‘s new book about Patrick McGovern, who created the company that led to tech publications such as PC World, Macworld, Infoworld, the Dummies books, and the company’s flagship, Computerworld, in the 1960s.
Here is an excerpt:
At age 27, McGovern displayed the kind of doggedness and risk-taking spirit that would characterize a later generation of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. From the first days, he understood his mission, and the company coalesced around that mission. Burgess Needle stayed with the startup for less than a year, choosing instead to pursue a literary career. But tens of thousands of others, from California to Beijing, would eventually join IDG and embrace McGovern’s mission. The people he hired learned fast, bought in, and became expert in their various industry niches. He had an almost mythical persona that attracted these young, talented writers, editors, artists, and salespeople who propelled the company to the top of the flourishing information technology media industry.
Just three years after he founded the company, in June 1967, McGovern published the first issue of Computerworld, a weekly newspaper that chronicled the news and events shaping the now mushrooming computer industry. In so doing, he took IDC into the emerging technology publishing arena, established a brand that would quickly become a dominant force in the industry, and began a period of sustained and phenomenal growth.
A scientist by nature, McGovern believed in the data. He was among the first in the computer industry to understand the value of surveying professionals in the information technology field. Computerworld emerged, not on a whim, but from listening to these early computer users voice their concerns. McGovern recalled an early research project IDC was conducting for a client to identify the sources of information for people who bought computer systems.
“We went down and interviewed about 40 people who were data center heads or computer center heads,” he said. “They were all telling us the same story. They said, ‘I get a tremendous amount of literature from the manufacturers.’” These computer makers and their marketing and advertising campaigns, replete with the biases of companies pushing their own products and agendas, seemed to be the sole source of information for prospective buyers.
Read more here.