A launch sealed in a downtown bar

New Zealand was the first country to publish the newspaper using desktop publishing techniques

The first issue of Computerworld may have been published on my birthday back in November 1986 but I have to confess, I have no recollection of any excessive celebrations. I suspect we were just relieved to get it out and make our own little piece of history.

Who were we? Computerworld may have belonged to the burgeoning Boston-based IT publishing house IDG but we were just a small, three year old publishing company called Profile Publishing. We had, through good luck and fortuitous contacts, landed the contract to kick the title off in New Zealand. And that we did. Here it is 1000 issues later as living testimony.

Our little piece of history included the fact that, while IDG may have been the last name in IT publishing circles, we were the first country to publish the newspaper using desktop publishing techniques, and therein lies another little story.

Profile Publishing may have been good for Computerworld, getting it up and running faster than in just about any other country in which the paper was launched, but Computerworld was also good for Profile, a company that earlier this year disappeared — except in name — when it merged with two other publishing houses to create the 3media Group.

Why did the launch happen the way it did? That’s simple really: I knew Alan Power, publisher of Computerworld in Australia. I had, in the 1970s when I published National Business Review, also published an early IT tabloid called Data Processing.

IDG supremo Patrick McGovern planned to launch Computerworld New Zealand and Alan recommended we do it for him. We agreed in a bar in downtown Auckland. A 12 month contract provided all the incentive Profile needed to invest more in its fledgling desktop publishing capabilities. In no time, it seems, we were re-geared to publish a weekly newspaper rather than a monthly magazine.

Don Hill’s recruitment as founding editor was an easy choice. I had worked with him in Wellington, again in NBR days. He knew plenty about IT and I knew nothing.

And so it was. We found the best people, created a great editorial and advertising sales team that soon had the paper up and running and so successfully pulling subscribers on board that we were feted at IDG HQ within the year.

Then the partnership ended. The contract expired at the end of the year. The reasons why don’t matter.

Both Computerworld and Profile went their separate ways and both succeeded in very different sectors of the business-to-business publishing market. It was great fun making it happen and rewarding to see the fledgling fly so high.

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