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June 5, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:17pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Tim Palmer was one of those individuals who leave a mark on the lives of those who knew and worked with him, and the news of his untimely death at 54 Tuesday moved me much more than I would have predicted, writes Gary Flood. Tim was an outstanding computer journalist, probably the best of his generation in terms of his knowledge of the subject both technically and business-wise. Elsewhere his fellow colleague, and co-founder of both Computergram International and APT Data (now Computerwire), Peter White, writes that it was like having a human search engine at one’s constant disposal; I would add that the search mechanism had a massively parallel-powered expert system attached to it, for Tim focused all of his great intelligence and shrewd insight on the IT industry from the moment he became interested in it. I knew Tim for far shorter a time than Peter, but the seven years I worked in his orbit have left me with a profound appreciation of his talents. Tim could seem strange, odd, forbidding, it is true. For a man who was only 25 during the Summer Of Love he sometimes seemed to have come from an earlier, crustier, deeply Home Counties British time. Yet this same little potbellied fellow in his waistcoat, smoking his evil-smelling cheroots, looking sometimes like a cross between Mr Chips and the science fiction show Dr.Who character Davros, semi-cybernetic creator of the evil Daleks, was also a man with a truly encyclopedic knowledge of Top Forty pop music, who was as wont to enter into a precisely well-argued disquisition on the decline in The Artist Formerly Known As Prince’s oeuvre as he was to opine on the ludicrousness of, say, IBM’s networking strategy, or yet again, the England cricket team’s misfortunes. Tim was I think a shy man at heart who loved nothing better than intelligent conversation. This may seem at odds with the popular figure of the hard-drinking hack news hound reporter, but I have often been told by Tim’s former colleagues that few such characters could keep up with him in terms of speed, precision, and incisiveness of his news stories when he worked to weekly deadlines. And none of us could hold a candle to him when he switched to daily ones! My own personal last memory of Tim was that a brief farewell he bade me when I recently worked for a short spell in our London office, when he cheerily asked me to come home again. Remembering that moment now I feel deeply moved by thinking that, in some sense, Tim must have felt maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad to have me around for the occasional bit of intelligent conversation. Which may seem small tribute to some, but means a lot to me. Tim was like a living example of Dr Johnson’s dictum that Knowledge is of two kinds: we know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it. Or rather, most often Tim would not need to bother going to find it, since he knew it already. It was a privilege to work with him.


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