David Bunnell, an early PC industry journalist and publisher, died of pancreatic cancer in his home in Berkeley, California at the age of 69, The New York Times reports.
Bunnell began work in the tech industry in 1973 as a technical writer at Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems. MITS created the Altair 8800, the first popular home computer. While at MITS, Bunnell started Computer Notes, a company newsletter that focused on the Altair. Bill Gates and Paul Allen joined the company, bringing an early version of the BASIC computer programming language. Shortly afterwards, Allen and Gates left MITS to start Microsoft.
“At a time when a lot of people still doubted the potential of personal computers, David Bunnell gave voice to the PC revolution,” Paul Allen wrote to The New York Times in an email.
Bunnell founded Personal Computing and co-founded PC Magazine. Moving on from those publications, Bunnell started PC World for International Data Group, a direct competitor to Ziff-Davis, a publishing company that bought PC Magazine. Bunnell staffed PC World with many of his former co-workers from PC Magazine.
The early days of computer journalism and the personal computer industry were fiercely competitive. When Apple co-founder Steve Jobs wanted a magazine to help popularize the Macintosh computer he chose Bunnell, who started MacWorld.
Upside magazine, which Bunnell launched to cover the rapid growth and impact of the internet, lasted until the dot-com bubble collapsed in the early 2000s. When Upside went bankrupt, he left the company.
As a major force in the computer industry, Bunnell’s influence and impact went beyond publications. According to John C. Dvorak, an industry columnist for many publications including PC World, Bunnell’s role in influencing the developing industry was not widely recognized.
“I believe that David never got the credit he deserved for inventing the computer magazine industry, the first personal computer trade show and much of the landscape of the industry,” Dvorak said.