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Chee Sing Chan

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Remembering Con Conway: The father of HK IT

Many point to 1963 as the year the IT industry in Hong Kong was born. China Light & Power purchased and installed the first-ever computer in Hong Kong—an NCR 315 mainframe.

The man who sold and helped install this computer was AFM Conway, at the time a young IT professional from Ireland. Better known as Con and nicknamed by the press as the “father of information technology in Hong Kong,” Conway was a key team-member of mainframe vendor NCR. He later went on to leadership positions at a number of Hong Kong’s largest technology firms.

The industry and his close friends and family gathered recently on October 4 to remember Con who passed away in early September after battling cancer.

Former Computerworld Hong Kong editor Euan Barty recalls Conway during the early years of his own career in the industry. “Con knew everyone and was a good friend and valuable source of news leads and personal contacts,” said Barty.

Conway soon teamed up with Donald Wong, the original MIS manager at CLP—they and others joined to found Chartered Online (COL, now owned by Wharf T&T), the IT services company. Barty noted Con’s zest for his work and the social life, as Barty’s memories of Con invariably featured riotous evenings at the Hong Kong Club.

Another close friend of Conway, Graham Mead—former Head of Computing Studies at Hong Kong Polytechnic—said that if Con committed to a project, he invariably saw it through whatever difficulties might arise.

For example, Con served as Hong Kong Sports Federation and Olympic Committee (SFOC) vice president for over 20 years. Despite his declining health, he proudly represented Hong Kong at the recent London Olympics.

Conway was an avid supporter and leader of Hong Kong’s sporting developments. In addition to the SFOC, he was a former president of the Hong Kong Hockey Association and dedicated four decades of his life to promoting Hong Kong sports.

Another friend and confidant, Karl Kwok, also a VP of the Hong Kong Olympic Committee, said Conway was a “battler.” SFOC president Timothy Fok Tsun-ting said Conway’s death was a huge loss to the city’s sporting family, the SCMP reported.

Con had lived in Hong Kong for 40 years, was a director of New World Telephone for two years and was also a director of Hongkong Telecom for 11 years. Before joining Hongkong Telecom, he had been the Hong Kong chief executive of four computer firms, Honeywell Information Systems, Data General, Unisys and NCR, each for five years.

The Hong Kong IT community will treasure his tireless work within IT and he will be sorely missed by all in the industry. Our condolences go out to his wife, family and close friends.