The Consumer Technology Hall of Fame honors visionaries who have made a significant impact on the consumer technology industry. These leaders and entrepreneurs have laid the foundation for the technologies, products, services and apps that are improving lives around the world.
Jim Barry was inducted along with five other industry leaders at an awards dinner on Wednesday evening, November 6, at SIR Stage37 in New York City. In addition, for the first time, CTA also honored its Innovation Entrepreneur Award winners at the dinner. i3 magazine highlights this prestigious class.
It is possible more people have learned about consumer technology products from Jim Barry than from any person in history. Barry spent 18 years as an influential consumer technology reporter and editor, then 22 years appearing across the country on TV and radio as CTA's Digital Answer Man.
Barry was exposed to journalism at an early age. He was born August 19, 1946, in Ridgefield Park, NJ, the son of Beatrice and Milton, known as Mick, a "renaissance" man who wrote for several New York City newspapers, who knew shorthand and took dictation from William Randolph Hearst. He attended St. Francis Elementary, Bergen Catholic High School, then St. Michael’s College, a small men's school in Winooski, VT, graduating in 1968 with a degree in history.
A passionate believer in public service, he enlisted in the Army and, after Officer's Training School, served as a lieutenant for two years, including a tour in Vietnam. He then spent a year on Martha’s Vineyard driving a tour bus and refining his natural gift of gab, and where he met his future wife, Kate.
Inheriting a love of writing from his father, Barry took a job as a writer for IDC's New England Outdoors Magazine in Boston, where he honed his people, story, research, and business reporting skills. In 1977, he was hired by the Bartex Publishing Group in Boston as an editor at Dealerscope, rising to editor-in-chief in May 1979, and eventually to editorial director and publisher for a number of Bartex publications including PC Retailing and Home Entertainment Marketing magazines. In 1985, Barry joined the Crosby Vandenburg Group in Boston and founded the company's custom publishing division, creating and producing custom magazines for ESPN, WGBH, Massachusetts Hospital Association and others.
Barry moved to New York in 1991 to become editor-in-chief of Video Magazine. He oversaw coverage of many of the consumer electronics industry's most important product introductions, while mentoring a number of young technology writers and reporters. After leaving Video in 1994, Barry moved back to Boston and started an eponymous marketing communications consulting firm, JMBarry.
In 1995, Barry joined CTA, where he succeeded Jack Wayman as the industry's primary media spokesperson. Barry quickly became the go-to guy for a quote for the media, an explanation of CTA's policy positions or an insight into the inner workings of Washington and how its policies impacted the technology industry. He became the consumer technology industry's friendly, low-key public face across the country.
On the road 125 days and visiting around 60 cities each year, Barry used his natural conversational gifts to showcase and gently explain new technology products and their benefits to consumers via TV, radio appearances, and newspaper and magazine interviews across the country and internationally, making more than 6,000 media appearances. He also was a frequent contributor to CTA publications, including It Is Innovation (i3) and Digital America, as well as contributing to TWICE and the Official CES Show Daily, for which he wrote a semi-annual "Washington Watch" column that dissected the influence of legislation on the consumer technology industry.
He also served as a judge for the Consumer Technology Hall of Fame since the program's inception in 2000. A passionate industry advocate and historian, he contributed his industry expertise as well as his personal knowledge of nominees to the judging process.
What made Barry an effective communicator was his self-effacement. Even though he was deeply knowledgeable about technology and the industry, he would often deflect and say, "I am not an expert, but I play one on TV."