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Obituary: Pioneering Computer Weekly journalist Ron Coates

John Lamb

Former Computer Weekly deputy editor Ron Coates died recently after a period of ill health.

His career in journalism flourished during the computer boom of the 1970s and 1980s when he established a reputation as an editor who insisted on the highest standards.

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He trained a generation of young writers who charted the rise of the comparatively new IT business, insisting on clear writing and professional news gathering.

After a career as a major in the Canadian army and as an historian studying at Aberdeen University, Ron cut his teeth in technology as a computer operator in the 1970s loading discs and tapes onto mainframe machines.

In 1978 he joined a new title called ComputerTalk which he went on to edit when it was bought by Reed Business Publishing, owner of Computer Weekly at the time.

He moved over as number two at Computer Weekly during an exciting period which saw the establishment of the microcomputer business and the emergence of the IBM PC as an industry standard.

Later Ron became editor of Computer News, an IDG publication and spread his wings further abroad by taking charge of Middle East Computing.

“A real rough diamond with a heart of gold,” recalled former Computer Weekly managing editor John Riley.

“As an ex historian myself he taught me how to transition from academic writing to journalism. He may be gone but he'll always be there looking over my shoulder at anything I write.”


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