Tech media pioneer Pat McGovern dies at 76

Patrick McGovern, who founded International Data Corp. in 1964 and pretty much gave birth to the IT press industry with the launch of Computerworld three years later, died on Wednesday, IDG announced. The startup he launched out of his “grey house” in Newton, Mass. (before moving upstairs from a Chinese restaurant) logged $3.55 billion in revenue last year and employed 13,450 people worldwide.

McGovern, 76, died at Stanford Hospital, according to an IDG statement. Cause of death was not disclosed.

Many tech reporters and editors (including this one) got their start writing for an IDG publication — NetworkWorld, InfoWorld, PCWorld CIO, CSO, CiteWorld and the IDG News Service followed ComputerWorld. The tally rose to 300 publications, 460 websites, and 700 events. McGovern saw huge opportunities abroad; in 1980 IDG was among the first U.S. companies to form a joint venture with a partner in the People’s Republic of China. That globalism is still evident, as IDG has a presence in 97 countries.

McGovern also built an IT research powerhouse in International Data Corp.,  which now employs about 600 people. He also bucked the trend by not taking his company public — a controversial decision over the years.

Current and former IDGers remember how McGovern used to personally deliver Christmas bonus checks to employees in all the U.S. offices. Somehow he managed to keep a personal touch even as the company moved to more spacious quarters in Framingham, adding offices in Silicon Valley, and San Francisco. “Uncle Pat” also was known for sending reporters postcards to compliment them on specific stories. He managed to keep IDG feeling like a small company long after it became a multibillion-dollar powerhouse.

In 2000, McGovern and his wife, Lore Harp McGovern, funded MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research with a $350 million contribution, one of the largest gifts in the history of higher education.

This post was updated to reflect McGovern’s $350 million donation to fund the MIT McGovern Institute for Brain Research.