Rockport, MA — David Gardner, a veteran journalist who wrote about technology for Scientific American, The Washington Post, Newsweek and computer industry publications, and earlier for newspapers in Albany, NY, and the Gannett News Service, died early Tuesday, October 7, 2013, at Brigham and Women's Hospital. He was 77.
Gardner had undergone emergency heart surgery after suffering a heart attack two weeks ago while walking home from dinner with his wife, Rita, at a restaurant in Rockport, where he owned a second home, in addition to his home in Natick.
Gardner, who never used his first name William, was renowned for his knowledge of computer technology, Boston history, the Catholic Church, the Cold War and journalism, as well as his love for skiing and travel.
He attended Matignon High School in Cambridge, where he played hockey, and Tufts University, where he studied language. He later attended the Army Language School in Monterrey, CA, where he learned German. He then served as a non-commissioned officer in Berlin for the National Intelligence Agency and monitored German phones during the Cold War.
He began his journalism career at small publications in Massachusetts and Connecticut before moving to Albany in 1962 to cover medicine and politics for the Knickerbocker News. Six years later, he moved to New York City and became a freelance journalist whose articles appeared in Ramparts, The New Republic, The Nation and Commonwealth, among others.
He began reporting on technology at the beginning of the computer age as a freelance writer for InformationWeek, Electronic News, Datamation and McGraw Hill publications. He often interviewed computer pioneers like Kenneth Olson of Digital Equipment Corp., John Akers of IBM and William Norris of Control Data, who once said he knew more about computers than he did. Also, his coverage of the breakup of AT&T in the early '80s for InformationWeek was widely regarded as among the best at the time. Gardner was still reporting on the industry for an Internet website at the time of his death, and he was an important contributor of news to Adobe's CMO.com site. He was covering the digital marketing industry for it right until the time of his death. Editors there liked to note that, with one call to Gardner he would "put a man on it—me."