Cary Lu

John Markoff[hidden]

I met Cary on a bus between parties at a West Coast Computerfaire in 1981 or 1982. I was reporting for Infoworld and I think Cary was writing for High Technology magazine.

From the outset I was struck by the depth and breadth of Cary's knowledge. On every subject we chatted about it was quite remarkable how well read he was and how much he retained.

After that first encounter we would meet fairly regularly at various PC industry events. It was always a treat to chat with him because he had a wonderfully sobering view on most hype-filled products. Early on I got into the habit of using Cary as a sounding board and an informal advisor for any new technology I was exploring. He could always offer balance and wisdom in a PR-laden world.

After Cary moved to Seattle we became closer friends and I would make an effort to visit every time I went there. He had a brief entrepreneurial career when he helped Dick Brass found General Information (what a wonderful name, if only it had succeeded!). In a way Dick and Cary's original vision preceeded the rise of the Web.

In Spring of 1996 we met in San Diego at the Society of Information Display meeting. It was a striking event, showing remarkable progress toward large flat panel displays and afterwards I finally was able to coax an enthusiastic comment out of Cary:

The New York Times, May 20, 1996 HEADLINE: Advances in Asia Propel Wider Use of Flat-Panel Displays


For decades engineers have been promising television sets that would hang on the wall like a picture. That fabled day may finally be coming, based on evidence from a technical conference last week in San Diego, where engineers demonstrated so-called flat-panel displays with screens big enough to begin rivaling television monitors -- and with costs low enough that flat screens may soon become a viable alternative to the bulky cathode-ray tube, or CRT, monitors now standard on desktop computers.

"For the first time it is possible to conceive of the end of the era of the desktop CRT," said Cary Lu, an author and a computer industry expert who attended the conference, which was sponsored by the Society of Information Display.

However, because of his healthy skepticism about all technological fads, Cary was slow to take to the Web. We had countless discussions about the value of the Web and although I think more recently he had come around to the idea that it was basically a good thing, he was a hold-out and a relative Internet curmudgeon for the longest time.

In late 1996 on his last trip to the Bay Area I took Cary to Street Light records on 24th St. in Noe Valley. He was looking for good accumulations of used classical music. He went through their entire selection and said afterwards that regretfully there was nothing they had to add to his collection.

I miss Cary.