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Posted on April 8th, 2010 by Jon Honeyball

Gracious, infuriating and funny: Goodbye Guy, and thanks

In the grand scheme of things, in the realms of The Great And The Good, Guy Kewney’s passing might not seem worthy of mention. He didn’t found a multi-billion dollar software firm, he didn’t run a bank or get into the House of Lords. In truth, he did more than all of that. Do not underestimate the influence that Guy Kewney has had on an entire generation.

He was the first computer journalist, and was there right at the very beginning. When Guy said “and I told Bill that this wasn’t a good idea”, he is referring to Gates and it really happened. Guy knew everyone. Everyone read Guy. Some of us were fortunate enough to either work with him or call him a friend.

He was gracious, infuriating, funny, deeply caring, humane, generous, inspirational, annoying, difficult, learned, witty, awkward, and just about every other term you care to apply. I recall furious arguments with him over the years, but will treasure the inevitable get-togethers, chats and putting the row behind us.

He had a famed Kewney Distortion Field which meant that any piece of technology would break within minutes of exposure to him in person. Much was down to his inability to stop fiddling, but in reality this often said more about the true fragility of the item than anything wilful on Guy’s behalf.

Guy knew everyone. Everyone read Guy. Some of us were fortunate enough to either work with him or call him a friend.

Press trips and briefings were always more fun with Guy. His insights always made me stop and think. He worked hard at doing what he did, and put his heart and soul into it, but knew when to stop, take a break and have a beer too. An almost inevitable consequence of his chosen field was that he was often wrong, but in his wrongness there was always a spark of rightness that made you think. That’s why he was read by so many, for so long.

He never wrote for PC Pro, though I confess I tried my very best on several occasions to get him to defect from rivals to our title. His depth of industry knowledge put all of us to shame. He was one of the kingpins of the IT journalism world, and when I last saw him a few weeks ago for afternoon tea in a hotel in Soho, his parting words were “look after our friends”.

His health was failing fast, the cancer was unstoppable, and he knew the end was close. He left us in the same way he worked – quietly, and with a dignity and grace that is, and will continue to be, an inspiration to all who knew him.

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19 Responses to “ Gracious, infuriating and funny: Goodbye Guy, and thanks ”

  1. David Wright Says:
    April 8th, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Thanks Jon, wonderful obit. I’ve read a few today, but yours is the first that has brought me to tears.

    I started reading Guy’s articles when I got into computing in 1980 and he has been a constant companion over the years.

    He will be sorely missed.

    RIP Guy Kewney.

     
  2. Chris Green Says:
    April 8th, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Well said!

     
  3. Ryan Says:
    April 8th, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Lovely piece. Thank you.

     
  4. Dave Faulkner Says:
    April 8th, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Very fitting tribute to the father of British computer journalism. Thank you, Jon.

     
  5. Manek Dubash Says:
    April 8th, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Nicely said, Jon. Mine is along similar lines: http://bigtin.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/guy-kewney-rip/

     
  6. Gavin Barrie Says:
    April 8th, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Very well said Jon. I read Guy’s work extensively through my adolescence and adulthood and he helped formed many of the ideas I currently hold dear about how technology enriches the human experience. I was lucky enough to meet Guy once. It’s awful that he’s gone from our midst.

     
  7. Jane Rimmer Says:
    April 8th, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Having started out in IT with Sun Microsystems back in the late ’80’s Guy and Neil Fawcett were the two geeky journos I first encountered. I took Guy on a press trip with Sun and some other European journalists and it was at the event that Scott McNealy said the infamous “I’d rather my kids did drugs than Windows” Guy loved it! He liked contraversary. It was a pleasure to work with Guy – a gentleman, a geek, a professional and just a nice guy, will miss him and his commentary on this weird world in which we all work….. RIP Guy Kewney

     
  8. Ian Symington Says:
    April 8th, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Great obituary. thank you.

     
  9. Anita Hunt Says:
    April 8th, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Goodbye, Guy, you were indeed one of the good guys and a profound influence on my early career. Geneva is ours forever now.
    My CAPTCHA for this comment: is reflect
    How fitting.

     
  10. Patrick Says:
    April 8th, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Always enjoyed his articles, sorry to hear of his passing. RIP

     
  11. Sarah Taylor Says:
    April 8th, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    That’s beautiful. Thank you.

    As a PR, I always welcomed a call from Guy, however tricky the question, however much detail he wanted, because he was genuine and interested. He didn’t have an angle, he wasn’t trying to catch anyone out, he was just interested in writing a story that would be interesting for his readers and probably original and thought-provoking too.

    RIP Guy.

     
  12. Nicomo Says:
    April 8th, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Thats very well written, Guy was always a good read, he will be missed. Thanks for the nice Obituary.

     
  13. Jenny Hodge Says:
    April 8th, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    So sad to hear about Guy – a true gentleman and the true ‘daddy of tech’ – RIP, we’ll miss you x

     
  14. Iain Laskey Says:
    April 8th, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    You summed him up perfectly. My own thoughts/memories are at http://www.practicalpc.co.uk/opinion/guy-kewney.htm

     
  15. Stewart Says:
    April 8th, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Nicely written, Jon. I regret losing touch with Guy in the early years of this decade, though selfishly this perhaps allows me the luxury of remembering him at his most energetic. I do regret not ever telling him he was one of the main reasons I moved into IT from research back in the late 80s.

     
  16. Robert Neuschul Says:
    April 8th, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    One of the most important and [often] unrecognised things about Guy was his ability to make you feel like one of his his closest friends, from the moment of first meeting. Thereafter, whenever one spent time with him he was able to make you feel that you were the most important person in the world to him, at that moment. I watched him perform this “trick” repeatedly over the years with lots of other people – until one day I realised it wasn’t a trick; he really was like that. He cared for people, and they in turn returned his care and love and affection.
    I had both the luck and the great privilege to call Guy a friend for over 20 years. I shall miss him greatly: I just wish that the last time we had a drink together he’d actually been able to drink a drink, instead of a pint of coloured water. He really missed his beer.

     
  17. Megan Says:
    April 9th, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Thank you, Jon: Guy has left a big hole for both those who read his stories and those who knew him as a person. He was an ‘online friend’ and we have been chattering via Skype for a few weeks. Nothing substantial, just contact… and love. He will be missed.

     
  18. Steve Cassidy Says:
    April 10th, 2010 at 12:24 am

    I’m not going to do a separate blog entry alongside Tim and Jon’s because they’ve said what needs to be said. Guy and I worked beside each other now and again, and talked rather more than worked whenever we met: his insouciant and instantaneous intelligence, and habit of collecting “clever people” without making them feel bumptious or arrogant by his act of selection, was the definition of mentorship: but you never, ever realised he was doing it. Even if he and Jon used to have some proper ding-dong arguments!

     
  19. Peter Says:
    April 14th, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    I am saddened to hear (belatedly) of Guy Kewney’s death.
    Like many other enthusiasts of ‘a certain age’ it was his writing which inspired my interest in Personal Computers and all things “IT”.
    R.I.P

     

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