Remembering Rick Doherty20 May, 2016 By: Thomas K. Arnold
I was saddened to hear of the passing of Rick Doherty, the celebrated CE journalist and analyst who moderated nearly all of the panel discussions on OTT for Digital Hollywood that I was on, including one just last January at the Consumer Electronics Show.
Doherty, most recently cofounder and director of The Envisioneering Group, a 20-year old international consultancy, died May 12 of a heart attack at the age of 64.
He was not only one of the most brilliant people I have encountered in my nearly 30 years as an entertainment and technology journalist, but also one of the most charming, charismatic and humble. I still get a chuckle when I read the email he sent out before one of our many panel discussions on OTT: “If you have a burning topic you'd like asked and the audience seems shy, tell me before 8:45 a.m. please. I'll have a few extra passes for your associates at 8:30 a.m. … This is about my 230th panel for Victor [Harwood, creator of Digital Hollywood]. Don't worry.”
The terseness of the email belies what a conversation with the man was like — and we had many of those, both before and after our half-dozen or so panels together. Doherty was a walking, talking encyclopedia of CE, and yet he was remarkably up to date on the latest technological developments affecting our industry — the rise, and impact, of OTT; the importance of data analytics; and the various advances in the connected home, the connected car, the connected everything.
Doherty lived in, and worked out of, Seaford, N.Y., a little town on Long Island. He launched his company back in 1983 and grew it into an international team of super-smart professionals dedicated, according to the Envisioneering Group website, “to providing our public, subscriber and client audiences with the best possible news, data and trend research possible — to better enable them to engage with existing and emerging markets.” According to his official bio, Doherty “directs laboratory testing of technologies, products and services; oversees publication of the Envisioneering newsletter and market research reports; and provides senior executive counsel on market development and intellectual property protection, portfolio management and licensing opportunities. Doherty's prime focus is on researching and articulating the impact of advanced digital technologies, services, products, industry initiatives and standards efforts on consumers, industry and society.”
Before that, Doherty spent 13 years as the Senior Technology Writer for Electronic Engineering Times, a trade publication for design engineers, managers and business and corporate management in the electronics industry.
Doherty, an electro-physicist, has dozens of U.S. and international patents to his credit in computing, communications, medical electronics and other fields. He was a member of the Society for Information Display, Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers and various other technology and professional business industry associations. He was a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and was active with its Biomedical Engineering, Solid State Circuits Society, Consumer Electronics Society, Broadcast Engineering, Magnetic Technology Society, Technology & Social Policy and other I.E.E.E. societies.
Prior to launching his own company he was Director of the Urban Vehicle Design Group at Pratt Institute, an engineer for Data General Corporation, Chief Engineer of Lourdes Industries Inc., and founder and President of Optronic Labs.
He was a smart man, a kind man, and quite honestly I can’t do his memory any better justice than by quoting from an excellent piece in EE Times written by Junko Yoshida, the publication’s chief international correspondent: “Rick’s life touched every aspect of consumer electronics. He explored and explained the growth of computing, communications and digital media that brought a genuine revolution to the way we live today. … Rick was appreciated by many in the media because he was always generous with his time, giving us what we needed to know when we needed, on deadline. Rick knew deadlines. But we all loved him beyond that because he was always such a kind soul. Whether we shared a bus ride with him on a press trip, bumped into him in the press room at a tradeshow, or spotted him in the front row at a huge press conference with his video camera in hand, he always had a smile and a hug and asked how we were doing. He was personable and affectionate. He reminded fellow journalists of the importance of the personal connection, when you’re trying to get to the bottom of a story. … Rick’s interest and his knowledge were always beyond bits and bytes. He knew people. And he loved them. He was a class act.”
He sure was.