Colin Robert Holland was born in Weymouth, England on July 22, 1953. He attended The Hardye School in Dorchester and went on to Plymouth Polytechnic where he graduated in 1976 with a B.Sc. in Physical Sciences.
Even before he became a journalist, Holland had gained experience as an organizer serving his college in the southwest of England in a paid position where we was responsible for a student newspaper, arranged publicity and helped organize pop music acts to entertain the students. He did this for a year after his own graduation in 1976.
In 1977, when he moved to London to join Electronic Technology, the publication of the Society of Electronic & Radio Technicians, as an assistant editor, he was putting those skills to work. Still only in his mid-20s Holland was editing the monthly members' magazine as well as helping organize technical conferences on microprocessor testing, on writing technical documentation, on consumer electronics and other topics. The breadth and unstinting nature of his involvement was something that would mark his career.
Holland handing out a coveted Best in Show Award at ARM TechCon 2011.
In 1982, after a brief period as production editor on The Accountant magazine, Holland joined the publishing house of Morgan Grampian in Woolwich, southeast London, as production editor for a U.K. monthly technical magazine called Electronic Engineering under its editor-in-chief Ron Neale.
These were the glory years of controlled circulation publishing with monthly issues often in excess of 200 pages and put together by a staff of just three or four editors with secretarial support. Neale recalls that Holland was organized, diligent and multi-talented. Holland was the one team member who could turn his hand to any and all aspects of what was a complex process of turning typewritten copy into a perfect-bound magazine that was distributed to electronic engineers across the U.K.
It was at this time that Holland applied his passion for sports to supporting Charlton Athletic Football Club, his local soccer team. Holland never had the physique of an athlete but he came from a sporting family. His father had played soccer as goalkeeper for Weymouth and for the county of Dorset as an amateur and was also a wicketkeeper at cricket. Holland loved most sports and was no fair-weather fan. As a season-ticket holder he would support Charlton at almost every game throughout the season from August to May. Alternate weekends were often marked by marathon rail trips across England to away games and soccer was a source of much of his social life. At times he combined his work skills with his hobby, editing a fan's magazine (fanzine) called Valiants Viewpoint.
Over 18 years – as Morgan Grampian evolved to become Miller Freeman – Holland helped launch the U.K. "product book" What's New In Electronics (WNIE), then served as products and distribution editor on the weekly U.K. newspaper Electronics Times before taking on the editorship of WNIE in March 1997, a task he performed for three years.
But times were changing. Miller Freeman moved from Woolwich where Holland had established himself in an apartment on Shooters Hill and so he took the opportunity to try his hand as a free-lance. During the period 2001 to 2008 he undertook numerous assignments as well as being the online editor for Embedded Systems Engineering and editor of Embedded Systems Europe.
In 2006 Holland, while still working on a freelance basis, was called upon to help launch EE Times Europe in print and online and he again thrived as an organizational and production lynchpin, this time for what was a pan-European editorial team that was linked by email and online chat-rooms. Many of the operational systems that launched the publication were devised by Holland during the frequent visits he made to the publication's base in Brussels, Belgium, during the startup phase.
The EE Times Europe experience and his editorial direction of Embedded Systems Europe ultimately evolved into his full-time position at UBM Tech, culminating in his conference-program leadership.
"When we were struggling to fill a leadership role for our Design West conference in late 2011," UBM Tech CEO Miller said. "Colin simply stepped up and saved the day. He took to traveling the 6000 miles to San Francisco in true Colin style. He was concerned at the expense so he booked 'Fly Drive' vacation packages spurning the higher priced hotels for local motels and, boy, did he deliver! Despite the workload, every time Colin came to San Francisco he would bring British candy for the team and always leave me a magazine or book on soccer when he left. I’ve been in this industry for over 25 years and I would put Colin at the very top in terms of people I have known and worked with – I will simply miss him very much. He was truly a class act."
Notwithstanding his heavy technical bent, Holland was also known as a sociable person. Karen Field, UBM Tech senior vice president, content for electronics, said he had: "an enthusiasm, engagement, and humor that were evident to everyone he came in contact with."
Holland is survived by brothers Tony and Brian and their families, as well as extensive network of friends and contacts made through work and his love of sport.
When I joined EE Times, it was Colin who made me feel the most welcome. He would come over to my desk when he was in town and start a little chat, and we'd exchange anecdotes, and I remember thinking he was a really awesome guy. I told him once that I was fascinated with world war two technology and he lent me a book about code cracking in the 1940's. It was amazing, and I'll remember it forever. There's a yiddish word that perfectly sums up Colin to me... that word is "Mensch". Wishing his family a long life, and although this is sad sad sad news, I'm glad Colin finally found peace after his illness and pain.
I really enjoyed working with Colin. He was a talented Editor and Journalist but he was as Slyvie said was a "Mensch". It just won't be the same without him at Design West and not seeing him at Embedded World is very sad.
Such a loss. Colin was one of the kindest and most genuine people I have met in this industry. I will miss his wry sense of humor and his ability to put anyone at ease. Cheers to you, Colin Holland. You'll be missed.
Did you ever approach Colin at an event when he didn't have a wry smile and some time for you? I didn't.
Colin's grace was that, plus, at press conferences, he'd not hesitate to call out, politely, that what the executive had just uttered was the complete opposite of what he'd said just two months before at another event.
He said it thoughtfully, as if he was that executive's longtime psychiatrist, and the executive would invariably be left mumbling clarifications and apologies before the jovial bearded fellow with the huge heart and the easy grin.
A truly wonderful human being and a terrific journalist. In answer to Brian's question above: no, Colin ALWAYS had a smile on his face and time to catch up. It wasn't difficult to talk him into grabbing a pint or two around the corner.
I didn't have the opportunity to work with Colin as long as many others here, but I truly enjoyed the times I spent with him. I always enjoyed his "football" stories, even though I am an American and don't really understand the nuances of the game. His passion was just so genuine.
I feel privileged to have known Colin, learned from him, and called him my friend.
Colin always had time for everyone, a smile for everyone and a passionate dedication to his family, his football and his work. Colin was one of the most loveable characters in our industry I had the privilege of meeting him often over a period of more than 25 years. My deepest condolences to his family, and to his many friends and close work colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic.
Colin seemed like he was already a veteran when I entered trade journalism in the mid- to late-1980s. I learned a lot from sitting next to him in press conferences and just writing down the answers to the questions he asked.
Because professionally, Colin had a very rare talent - he knew how to ask the right questions, without ever seeming rude or unfriendly. As Brian has described, Colin was indeed jovial - but (as a PR) I knew that my clients underestimated him at their peril.
What do I think of when I picture Colin? Well, as anyone who ever met him would attest, Colin could talk the hind legs off a donkey.... I think of the passion that Dylan referred to in a previous comment - both for his personal interests and for his work; his interest in others; his genuine nature.
I didn't see him often but I'll miss him. Of course this is a sad time: but even now, thinking of Colin makes me smile, not frown. I'll find it easy to celebrate having known him.
What a shock and what terrible news. Colin was the very definition of a 'good bloke'. I'm honoured to have known and worked with him and to have been able to call him a friend. I'll miss him greatly, as will so many others in the industry. My sincerest condolences to his family.
Join our online Radio Show on Friday 11th July starting at 2:00pm Eastern, when EETimes editor of all things fun and interesting, Max Maxfield, and embedded systems expert, Jack Ganssle, will debate as to just what is, and is not, and embedded system.