His belief in unbiased information never wavered. How many other corporate media executives after a vendor yanked all advertising following a story about overcharging customers would respond with a memo saying great job?
I used to joke that he was the only billionaire who actually knew me personally. But it wasn't a joke — despite leading a global corporation with many thousands of employees, he not only knew my name but what I did. And it was the same for pretty much all of us.
Mr. McGovern truly believed that better access to quality information would help improve the world. "Before people can achieve something they have to conceive of the possibility of that achievement, and information is the seed of that conception," he said in that 2000 Computerworld interview (see PDF download of full interview transcript). "When I read this book about the Giant Brains or Machines that Think, I was inspired to move ahead in that field. I thought, 'Gee, if I could be a major contributor to the flow of information so that people could understand the possibilities of computers and communications and electronics, and then inspire that technology and improve the ways to apply it, then eventually we would be able to make much greater use of this in enhancing the quality of human life.
"I wanted to bring the possibilities to people and get them stimulated about understanding how this technology could help."
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