Colin Holland, a longtime electronics-industry journalist who also played a leading role in organizing the technical programs of several high-profile conferences, died on Thursday in a London hospice after a year-long battle with cancer.
Holland's 35-year career in the business-to-business press was capped with his stint at EE Times publisher UBM Tech, which he joined full time in 2008. His initial responsibilities revolved around Embedded and the DesignLines. In 2011, Holland became content director for the ARM TechCon conference. Early last year, DesignCon and the DESIGN West and East conferences were added to his charter. Holland had told colleagues he considered his work on those events to be the most exciting post he'd ever held.
"In his most recent role as Content Director for our events, Colin had an extraordinary impact on our portfolio of conferences," said Kathy Astromoff, CEO of UBM Tech, Electronics. "His ability to intuit what engineers need to know was unmatched. More importantly, his many friends and colleagues at UBM – some of whom go back 30 years with Colin – will sorely miss his energy and ironic humor." Colin Holland at ARM TechCon in October, 2011, in Santa Clara, Calif.
Holland was one of a generation of British-born business-to-business journalists who built upon science educations to facilitate communications between industry and engineering professionals about the technology and business of electronics. His wide-ranging experience included stints at the UK publications Electronic Technology, Electronic Engineering, What's New In Electronics (WNIE), and Electronics Times.
As print gave way to the Web in the early 2000s, he served as online editor-in-chief for Embedded Systems Engineering and editor of Embedded Systems Europe.
Holland came back into the UBM orbit in 2006 when he was tapped for a freelance assignment to help start up EE Times Europe.
"I knew Colin for a long time as we worked on competing print publications in the UK where I quickly learned to respect his integrity and reporting style," said UBM Tech CEO Paul Miller. "I was delighted to have the chance to work with him on the same team when we launched EE Times in Europe and found that we had a great deal in common.
"We quickly became more than boss and employee and would spend much of our time together sharing our mutual passion for English lower league soccer," Miller said. "For me, Colin’s support for Charlton Athletic said a lot about him as a person. Loyal, supporting his soccer team and his work team with a passion and commitment that went beyond the call of duty, he did not put on, nor suffer, airs and graces and no matter how tough the going got, Colin was always there cheering on the team and bringing a sense of authenticity, reality – and a little levity – to situations that would have crushed many of us. Colin was just a great guy; honest, funny and caring."
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.
The first time I met Colin, donkeys years ago, we quickly moved away from electronics to the important topic of football, and discovered we supported each others’ fiercest rivals – Charlton Athletic (Colin) and Millwall (me).
“I expect we’ll get along all right,” he laughed. Over many a beer, you bet we did. The best thing I can say is that when I attended any industry event and Colin wasn’t there I felt let down. It deprived me of football chat and banter, and watching him in the nicest possible way ask a question to catch the presenter on the hop. A brilliant technique, it always elicited a better response than aggression.
He was, I reckon, a professional journalist, one of the best in the electronics industry, and a professional football supporter. He never let football get in the way of doing a first class job. Neither did he let work hinder his football attendance. He’d think nothing of stepping off an overnight flight to Heathrow from the West Coast and heading straight to wherever Charlton were playing home or away.
You couldn’t even begin a head count of Colin’s friends in the publishing and electronics industries. We will miss the smile, the bonhomie greatly as will his family to whom I send my sincerest condolences.
Absoluted shocked by this news.
Mick's reply above sums my feelings for Colin up also. A great journalist, and an all round good guy. It was a pleasure to meet Colin at events, and catch up with the latest gossip. He always had time for a chat, a bit of banter and a beer. He will be missed by all in the industry
Colin was a true global journalist who made great contributions to our industry. I would just as easily run into him in Grenoble as Silicon Valley. I could not have a short conversation with him. We always spent an hour or so discussing the state of things as they are. Colin was never shy to push back, but always did so with his genteel British style. I'll miss him.
It's a very sad day. Having known Colin for years I will really miss him. If there was someone at a press conference or event you were always going to say 'hello' to and have a chat, it was Colin. His commitment to whatever he did – whether it involved writing, editing or Charlton, or getting N trains to a distant distributor close to where Charlton had an away game – was legendary.
Sorry to see you go Colin.
Colin Holland passing on is a loss to all who knew him, a gentleman who always had a kind word and charm but also a journalist got the heart of the story he wrote... Colin was a great supporter of afdec and attended many of the early meetings, travelling from Woolwich to The Tower Hotel in Roy Atterbury’s 1600E Cortina... “We always stopped for a kebab on the way home and he (Roy) without fail would always find a way of getting me to pay for it!” he joked, grinning widely... For me it summed up Colin’s good natured humour...
Often in the morning I'd catch up Colin, at which point he was well into his day on the other side of the pond. We'd talk, and by the end a good hour would have passed and I wouldn't have realized it. I'd always come away the better for having spoken with him: He was an inspiration on so many levels, personally and professionally. He had to be dragged kicking and screaming from the football pitch of life, after overtime, after the penalty shootout, and after some bloke in shorts blew the final whistle. He didn't care, he just wanted to play on. He was our captain, and he never let us down. I - and by extension my own family - am better for having known him. His legacy will ripple for years to come. Thank you Colin - and Cheers to you too!
As another former colleague on Electronics Times, I can only echo other's comments about Colin's kindness and generosity. As a rugby rather than a football fan, I admit that my ears still prick up at the mention of Charlton as their performance could be used as a barometer for Colin's mood on a Monday morning. He'll be missed
To me and I am sure to everyone who knew him, the news of Colin’s death is such very sad news and the great loss of someone who had so much more to give and contribute. I had the pleasure of working with Colin after I joined Electronic Engineering as editor in 1978. He was initially my Production Editor and later Products Editor and willingly carried the load that underpinned the success of Electronic Engineering at that time. I suppose if he (Colin) had to write my report card at that time, one line might have read, “Knows a lot about electronics and physics but nothing about publishing”. Colin helped to put that right before he moved on to greater success and for that I will always be indebted to him.
He became a lifelong friend and we often chatted about the great love of his life football (soccer to US readers) and the club he supported Charlton Athletic. There are many amusing football related anecdotes that come to mind- one I remember occurred when we were traveling together with the rest UK technical press core to Dallas for a press conference. Colin persuaded the American Airlines captain to radio back to London to get the 5.00pm Saturday football results and read them over the public address system for all football leagues with some rather interesting pronunciations. Happy Days. Goodbye to a really nice guy.
The first time I met Colin "in the flesh" was at the Embedded Conference in London in the press room -- I walked in not knowing anyone, but Colin recognized me from my photo on my EE Times articles -- he immediately called me over to his table, introduced me to everyone, and within minutes I felt as though I was in the company of old friends. He was a unique and very likable person who will be sadly missed.
I'm very sad to see the passing of Colin. The industry has lost an icon. I'm sure his family and friends feel the same way.
To me, Colin was always warm, caring and friendly; a man whom I came to respect quite a bit as his personal charm was outmatched only by his professional skills. I'll have fond memories of Colin, always.
Terrible, terrible news. Colin would have been a key member of anyone's dream team of Electronic journalists, and I can only echo comments here concerning his great good humour and industry insight. Colin helped me when I was starting my career - even more so when he decided not to take up one editorial post he had been offered, as I was second choice. He was great fun to be with on editorial trips and he was one of the 'must haves' when putting together editorial interview schedules for many clients. I'll miss Colin very much. RIP Valiant one.
Colin was such a nice chap and such a sad loss at such a young age.
Years ago, when we both worked for electronics titles, he knew I couldn't share his enthusiasm for sports, but when I knew him well he was always genuinely friendly and helpful, and never for a moment allowed the rivalry that exists between journals to spoil the social side of work.
A proper gentleman, I say.
This is so sad. I met Colin numerous times at work, our events or at the bar. His infectious smile and sense of humor always brought a smile to my face.
He was the lifeline of our Design Events and a dear friend. No words can do justice to this loss and he will be deeply missed.
Our sincere condolences to his family and friends.
When anyone dies with so much left to give it is sad, and leaves a hole in the life of their family and friends.
But Colin's passing will leave a hole in the industry. The amount of cheer and humour has dropped, the electronics world is a little drabber than it was.
I first met Colin at the the first press conference I attended and he has always seemed to be there: asking shrewd questions, happy to grab a pint afterwards, seeming to know everything about every technology.
He will be missed. I hope the affection & regard he is held by colleagues & the industry is some consolation to family & friends at a sad time.
This is sad news indeed. I first met Colin when I started out as a journalist. Looking back it was a wonderful time to be covering the industry with a great collection of UK journalists from several vibrant magazines. Colin was one such journalist, and a lovely bloke. Sincere condolences to his family. Roy Rubenstein.
Colin occupied the desk to mine on my first day as a journalist -- May 14, 1984 -- when I came in to work on Electronic Engineering in Woolwich.
He showed me the ropes.
And, off and on, he has been at a desk next to mine ever since, although it has been increasingly a virtual desk.
It is hard to accept he is not there helping to make things better; either by getting stuck in to the work, or with a suggestion, or with a joke; and usually all of the above.
A great character that is gone too soon.
I worked with Colin , on and off, for over 25 years and a more professional and nicer guy you could not wish to have on the team. When I edited Electronics Times and a vacancy came up for a Products Editor, I could not be bothered with the usual niceties and rushed down a floor of Morgan Grampian towers and put an application form in his hands (Sorry, Ron). Boy, did I make the right decision! The electronics industry , never mind the electronics fourth estate, lost a great guy, and me a very close friend.
I will truly miss our chats ( more often than not one sided, especially when it came to football, cricket, etc) and his forever happy demeanour , and more latterly our phone calls.
Just one of many potential anecdotes-- inevitably football related. With an edition of Distribution Times to be passed by 9am the following morning, Colin , with still a feature to write at 7 pm, heaved himself up and announced he was off to see an FA cup replay at Charlton. He ignored my raised eyebrows, and, of course, the special issue did go to the printers at 9am.
Cheers, Colin, we will all miss you
What a sad day. Colin was a terrific journalist and an all-around good guy. I'll miss his good humor and insights shared when running into him at conferences and events. Even more, the industry will miss his byline.
Deepest condolences to his UBM colleagues and family.
In common with many others who’ve written here, I’ve known Colin for nearly 25 years, and was deeply saddened by this morning’s news. One of my earliest memories is of inviting him to the old Wembley Stadium to watch the Charity Shield (Man U v. Liverpool, I think) from a hospitality suite when I was Marketing Manager at Rohm Electronics. Colin was very gracious about my obvious ignorance of football’s finer points, and thanks to his infectious enthusiasm I enjoyed the match immensely. A couple of years later - when I started to write for Microwave Engineering Europe - I found myself as one of his colleagues at Morgan-Grampian/Miller Freeman/CMP. Much later we both worked on a freelance basis for EBP in Brussels, where he was a great source of advice on successful magazine production from a distance. More recently I’ve been talking with him regularly from the ‘other side of the fence’ in PR, which really made no difference to Colin – whatever the situation he was always happy to chat, advise, or be persuaded to attend a press conference. As many of you have said, he was invariably ready with a smile and a funny story, rarely had a bad word to say about anyone, and was a thoroughly professional editor as well as one of the nicest people I’ve known. He will be greatly missed, and is a real loss to our industry.
Goodbye Colin, truly one of a kind but also one of the best.
Such a sad and tragic loss.
Colin was a great bloke to work with, he was a true friend to me and my colleagues at EDA, EBP and at UBM, always sharing, patient, good humoured and helpful.
I'll miss his endless enthusiasm, joviality, generosity, kind nature, his love of a lengthy gossip and his west country burr.
A great guy and taken away from us far too soon.
Rest in peace Colin.
It was a real pleasure to have known you.
This is a sad loss both personally and for our industry. Colin was one of the good guys. Great to work with, always gave you his honest opinion and never took your word out of context.
A sad for day for everyone who knew him, my thoughts are with his fsmily.
What a waste. A sad morning when I read Peter Clarke's column.
I met Colin briefly in ARM Techcon 2011, and had a cheerful conversation. As everyone said, he got a wide smile in his face, and sharp data in his mind.
I first worked with Colin in 1987 until I paths went seperate ways in 2002. I am not sure that I can add much to all of the previous writers comments other than to say I am in total agreement with them all. I have many memories of times spent with Colin, on the personal side when I took my children and a few of their friends to 'Kids for a Quid Night' at CAFC Colin was so kind and not only met us all at the gate but had bought Charlton souveniers for all of the children, probably in an effort to convert them to life long supporters of his beloved football club. That was almost 20 years ago and they still remember it to this day. In the work place there are many anecdotes to recall but the one that will live with me forever was in the Docklands office. Following a desk reshuffle Colin felt that the fax machine was to near his desk and was way to noisy for him to concentrate on his writing.....he had his own solution.... that was to snip the telephone wire supplying the data to the fax machine with scissors....genius and still makes me chuckle to this day. May you rest in peace Colin. Steve
I first met Colin well over 30 years ago when he was assistant editor at SERT, and after a rather staid press conference at the Institute of Directors we were led to an excellent pub by his friend and fellow West Country man Ian Channing. Colin and I instantly hit it off, and it was fairly obvious that he was destined for greater things. In the heady days of the 1980s, with product magazines at their peak and press events, trade shows and product launches proliferating, Colin and I bumped into each other most weeks, and although our interests were poles apart we always found something to chat about.
As someone who has no interest in football, I was at first bemused by Colin’s single-minded dedication to Charlton Athletic, but so entertaining were his anecdotes about following them round the country in the company of an assorted bunch of fans that, to this day, I can’t see or hear the name “Charlton” without immediately thinking of Colin.
Possibly less well known is that he was a dedicated fan of Loudon Wainwright III, and he managed to get away from a conference in Switzerland to see his idol at a folk club on the outskirts of Zurich!
I was so pleased to see him just before Christmas, when he made a special effort to turn up to a client's lunch. It was then that I learnt that, as he put it, “I’m living on borrowed time".
In all my dealings with Colin, he was unfailingly charming, friendly and genuinely interested in what you were saying. To my two assistants, Jean and Dawn, he was one of the easiest people to deal with, and I know they will join me in offering our deepest condolences to his family.
Colin was a fine English gentleman, great journalist and always greeted you with a smile and a genuine interest in what you had to say. It has been my pleasure to have worked with him over much of my career. He will be sorely missed by the electronics industry, but moreso as a truly fine individual. Jim
Standing way above the Thames shortly after Miller Freeman defected to the Dark Side, Colin said "I can see my house from here, but it takes me an hour to get in since we moved from Woolwich. Still, I can see The Valley as well so it can't be all bad". Didn't Charlton do him proud at the weekend. As a Palace supporter, Colin and I always had something to talk about because no matter how hard you tried to get him to concentrate on the product that you really wanted him to enthuse over, he would always want to analyse the last time the teams met. And that's what endeared me to him. I was never hot on the technical side, but Colin was patient, always found a common ground which created a smile, a joke and almost certainly a beer afterwards. From one bearded, bespectacled scribe to another, "Goodbye old friend, you made your mark".
I kept in touch with Collin regularly and he was very helpful in helping us with launching products of a startup I was running. He was open to ideas and was always soliciting inputs from the industry at large on directions embedded design line.
He will be missed. A wonderful person who always had a smile for you, showed interest in what you were doing. Farewell.
Our prayers and wishes are with Collin's family on this sad event.
So, so sad to hear this. I can't say I knew Colin well but at events he seemed to know everyone and know them well. I am in awe of people who have that ability and Colin had it in spades. The ESC/TechCon world will be a little less fun without him around.
Sad news. I met Colin only once at an embedded event in England. I was new to the industry, but Colin treated me like a member of the team. He was completely engaging and personable, with some good stories to match. Rest in peace, Colin.
I knew him from the UBM-Technical webinars. I appreciated his competences in area of the embedded systems and his personality very high. I was very touched and sad as I heard that he had been died. I wish his family and workmates my cordial condolence.
Such a shock, so sad. The industry has lost a real legend. Every call, every meeting I ever had with Colin ended in talking about the football. As a lifelong Cardiff fan I'd been suffering in the same lowly divisions almost as long as Colin had with his beloved Charlton. So we shared all the pain, shared all the frustrations, but always fell about laughing. Glad and proud to have known you Colin. I'll raise a glass in your honour at the next home game. Am byth a beunydd.
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