Jack Schofield, the Guardian’s former computer editor and author of its technology advice column,, for almost 20 years, has died aged 72.
was taken to hospital following a heart attack on Friday night and died on Tuesday afternoon.
The Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, said: “Jack Schofield was one of the first true technology and computing experts in British journalism. In more than 35 years writing for the Guardian, he saw (and foresaw) the rise of personal computers, the advent of the internet, Google, smartphones and much more. His Ask Jack column was an essential and expert guide for generations of Guardian readers. Our thoughts are with Jack’s family and friends at this sad time.”
Schofield had written for the paper since 1983, initially as a columnist for the new computing pages, called Futures Micro Guardian. His first column,, walked the reader through the difficult process of picking one of the many microcomputers available in Britain at the time, ultimately recommending the £400 Acorn BBC Model B or, for the budget conscious, the £100 Sinclair Spectrum.
Readers were warned to steer clear of the absolute newest models, however, owing to a year-long wait for software to become available in reasonable quantity.
In 1985, Schofield joined the Guardian as a staff member to launch Computer Guardian, a fully fledged supplement that would continue in various forms until 2009. His time editing the supplement took in the transition from microcomputers to the PC, the rise of Windows and the birth of the world wide web, which ultimately led to Computer Guardian merging into the wider Online section in 1994.
After moving on from his editing role, Schofield continued to write for the Guardian and in May 2000 launched Ask Jack, an advice column that he would produce first fortnightly and later weekly for the rest of his life.
In the inaugural column, which he described as “an experiment that may not last a week”, Schofield said technology advice was a tricky business. “The number of possible combinations of hardware and software is so vast that they’re bound to throw up problems that have never been seen before … and may never be seen again.”
Despite those difficulties, the column was a hit and Schofield helped readers with problems ranging fromto and .
Outside of the Guardian, Schofield is remembered as a pipe-smoking “gentle giant” with a passionate interest in photography, a subject on which he wrote multiple books including Photographing People and The Darkroom Book, a guide to self-processing colour and black-and-white film.
He was the editor of the magazines Photo Technique and Zoom, having picked up the interest while at university in Birmingham and carrying it through his MA at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.
He leaves behind his wife, Rosalind, and son, James Alexander, 34. “He was the kindest, most lovely person,” Rosalind said. “In 44 years of marriage he never judged anyone nor passed any derogatory remarks. I know he’s well thought of and I have always said he is a legend.”