I first came across Jim Seymour's writings back in the 1980s. I worked at a fairly small firm, and we had no IT people who knew anything about the new field of PCs. We had originally put a first-generation IBM PC on everyone's desk, and now we wanted to upgrade. We had no idea how to pick from the newer models in a cost-effective manner, and unbiased information was difficult to find in those pre-Internet days.
I happened to come across a piece that he had written -- the clearest thing I had seen about the differences among models and the "price vs. performance" tradeoffs. I brought that article to my boss, and it became the roadmap for our first upgrade, making me look like a genius in the process even though I knew virtually nothing about PCs. Jim had a true gift for taking the bewildering jargon of technology and translating it into prose that allowed ordinary users to make intelligent decisions. If that were his only legacy, it would mark the life of someone who added something to this world.
However, he was also able to translate ordinary users' concerns into language that product designers could understand. Jim was always an advocate for people who had to use the products, and his industry connections gave him a voice to express those concerns and actually have engineers take them into account. As frustrating as it can be to use a modern PC, it is much less so than it used to be. Jim was a major force in that evolution, and everyone who touches a PC should be grateful to him.
While these technological platitudes would be a great way to be remembered, what really counts in the end is what kind of person someone was. On this count, there was none better than Jim. He had tons of financial and technological contacts; these are two industries where egos can run rampant, yet he seemed to be bereft of ego.
He always took the time to guide this technological illiterate though the maze of technology, whether it was to help me out on a column or to make me look like a genius to my wife when I installed our 802.11b setup. He and I joked about the time he had to IM me for technological help in accessing TheStreet.com's publishing tool after I had found a way to access it the morning after a tortuous system upgrade. I told him it was a small payback for that article from many years ago that made me look good to my boss. He was flabbergasted that I would remember such a thing, and he said it made him happy that someone was able to use his writings to put technology to work.
So, that's how he'll be remembered by me: A guy who not only knew technology and knew how to relate to both designers and end-users, but also as a terrific guy who really cared about other people and who would take the time and interest to help people out.
Brian Reynolds is a chartered financial analyst who spent more than 16 years as a fixed-income portfolio manager and economist at David L. Babson & Co. in Cambridge, Mass. He currently writes and lectures about investment issues and trades for his own account. He welcomes feedback at