The RIP notices of the post “dot com” meltdown continue to show up in bankruptcy proceedings, court cases, bottom-dollar cheap mergers and acquisitions.
One obituary I received on Thursday of last week was especially sad, however, and unique.
The simple note announced that Computer News Group, Inc. had been “dissolved.”
I almost didn’t open the envelope. It bore no return address and simply was postmarked PM 18 JUN 2002 Research Triangle Park. More junk mail, I thought.
But something told me to open it, and the news contained inside brought back a flood of memories of better days when high-tech really did seem to have no limits to its upside.
The note packs a lot of information in one sentence:
Due to the unfortunate business conditions, we regret to inform you that Computer News Group, Inc. has been dissolved.
Not even a signature.
The letter was dated June 7. Why it wasn’t postmarked until June 18 is unknown.
I called CNG’s phone number, but it had already been disconnected.
Another day, another sad story of economic reality. But this story was painful in part because I’ve known (and once wrote for) the Gardner family since getting into the high-tech business myself.
If you don’t know Dave Gardner and his extended publishing family, and you are involved in high tech, you should. Daughter Kent was the editor and publisher at CNG. Daughter Kathryn was vice president of operations. Nephew Todd headed up advertising. Dave’s wife Benton also was involved, in addition to working with the textile trade show and marketing industry.
For a decade, the Gardners, strived to make a success out of an enterprise focused on high-tech. Back in 1994, CNG published three monthly newspapers devoted to tech in RTP, the Triad and Charlotte. They also put on tech trade shows from Greenville to Raleigh and launched a Web site developing firm known as “Webmasters”. At one time they formed an Internet users group, and best-selling Internet author Paul Gilster served as its first president. In fact, Gilster for a long time was the paper’s featured columnist.
And there were some heady days. One of Dave’s proudest possessions is a flattering photograph of him that appeared in The News & Observer several years back. It was accompanied by a likewise flattering story about CNG’s trade shows.
I first met Dave through Scott Place, now of Maverick Marketing, who handled public relations for the Internet Service provider called “Interpath” and I helped launch back in 1993-4 for Capitol Broadcasting. We were front-page news.
How ironic that both Interpath, now disappearing as part of a merger, and CNG disappear from the RTP landscape nearly at the same time.
The technology business changed over the ’90s, and many of CNG’s primary clients — especially computer stores — went belly-up or reduced advertising. The three newspapers became one. The trade shows fell off.
Finally, in Feburary of 2000, CNG made apparently what would be its last attempt to stay alive by turning the newspaper into a monthly magazine called “IT”. Built primarily around an in-depth interview with an executive each month, IT included a lot of color and was delivered to targeted subscribers.
Then along came the “dot com” travesty. IT published its last issue in April.
The Web site for IT is still up. Look at:
For how long we’ll be able to read it is unknown. You might want to take a look before it and all the information published there disappears — and with the site’s demise the extinction of another piece of RTP’s tech history.
Editor’s note: Rick Smith is managing editor of Local Tech Wire.