Pat McGovern, a visionary in the IT publishing industry who founded the International Data Group, died on Wednesday at the age of 76.

IDG announced this morning that McGovern died at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif. The cause of death was not disclosed. The newly elected Walter Boyd succeeds McGovern as chairman of IDG.

McGovern founded the International Data Corp. (now a subsidiary of IDG) in 1964, and he launched its flagship publication, Computerworld, in 1967. Over the past 50 years, he oversaw the growth and expansion of IDG to more than 300 magazines and newspapers, as well as 460 websites dedicated to covering the information technology industry, including InfoWorld, Macworld, Network World, PCWorld and TechHive.

“Pat McGovern was a visionary leader in technology media,” said Alan Zeichick, founding editor of SD Times, who worked for McGovern from 1987 to 1990. “With the creation of International Data Corp., McGovern pioneered the modern tech analyst firm; with Computerworld, InfoWorld and PC World, he brought clarity and transparency to the worlds of traditional data centers and the new age of personal computing. There’s no spot on the globe that haven’t been reached by IDC and by IDG’s publications, websites and events. What’s more, ‘Uncle Pat’ cared deeply about his employees and having a wonderful corporate culture. He’ll be missed.”
Among IDG’s other creations was the popular “For Dummies” series of instruction manuals, which were later sold.

McGovern’s landmark publishing efforts earned him a net worth of US$6.5 billion, but the industry pioneer was also a philanthropist, donating $350 million in 2000 to help MIT found the McGovern Institute for Brain Research. He received lifetime achievement awards from the American Society of Business Publications Editors, Magazine Publishers of America, and American Business Media.

McGovern was born on Aug. 11, 1937, in Queens, N.Y., and was raised mostly in Philadelphia. He graduated from MIT in 1959 with a degree in biophysics, and got his start in publishing in a part-time editorial job at the first U.S. computer magazine, Computers and Automation.

McGovern is survived by his wife Lore, his son Patrick, his daughter Elizabeth, his stepdaughters Michelle Bethel and Dina Jackson, and his nine grandchildren.

“In addition to being a creative genius in terms of identifying computer industry trends and starting publications, trade shows and events surrounding them, McGovern was also an extremely warm and generous man,” said Ted Bahr, president of BZ Media, which publishes SD Times. “He was known for traveling from desk to desk around the office in December, personally handing out Christmas bonus checks and thanking each employee.

“The battles between Ziff Davis [a publishing company where Bahr worked for many years] and IDG in the 1980s and early 1990s were legendary,” he added. “This truly marks the end of an era.”