Joe McNally, the first employee at Compaq UK and its managing director for many years has died after losing a battle against cancer.
McNally, who retired from Compaq in 2001 and recieved the Commander of the Victorian Order (CVO) in recognition of two decades' service helping youngsters develop through the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme last year had a varied career before taking the helm at Compaq.
McNally entered the IT sector as a programmer with ICL, then moved to Honeywell as a salesman before becoming the first UK employee for Compaq in 1984. He was VP and managing director at the PC firm when he left in 2001.
He started Compaq's UK operation with just $40,000 in 1984 taking it from nothing in this country to a household name that posed a challenge to the likes of Hewlett-Packard and IBM.
Born in the northeast, McNally was a popular figure in the industry but before moving into IT he was a roadsweeper, a supply teacher and worked in a steel stockpiling business.
Tributes to McNally are already being made by channel figures on Twitter as reaction to the sad news spreads.
Ian French, former head of Bell Microproducts and Azlan, tweeted: "Joe McNally supported the developing UK IT channels - a fine, no nonsense leader who influenced many, including me. I will miss him."