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Chris Gulker

Christian Frederick "Chris" Gulker (10 March 1951 – 27 October 2010)[1][2] was an American photographer, programmer, writer, and pioneer in electronic publishing.

Chris Gulker
Chris Gulker.jpg
Born Christian Frederick Gulker
(1951-03-10)10 March 1951
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died 27 October 2010(2010-10-27) (aged 59)
Menlo Park, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Education Occidental College, AB in Comparative Literature

A "Silicon Valley pioneer,"[3] Gulker was "instrumental in introducing the digital publishing era to the newspaper industry"[4] and was a central figure in the early history of blogging.


Early yearsEdit

Born in New York City, Gulker grew up on the shores of Lake Erie near Erie, Pennsylvania.[5] He was a 1969 graduate of Western Reserve Academy[3] of Hudson, Ohio, and an alumnus of Occidental College, Los Angeles, California, where he earned a degree in Comparative Literature. He worked as a dishwasher, cab driver, tow truck operator and barman[5] before he was hired in 1978 as a staff photographer at the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner,[6] where the photography department came to view him as "one of its brightest stars."[7] He also worked as a freelancer, and has been published in Time, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Glamour and the New York Times and was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.[8] Gulker contributed to the National Press Photographers Association's Electronic Photojournalism Workshop.[9]

San Francisco ExaminerEdit

Gulker moved to Menlo Park, CA,[10] after the Herald-Examiner closed in 1989,[11] and joined the San Francisco Examiner, where he initially served as picture editor[12] and led the photography staff's transition from film to digital cameras.[4] His work made possible an all-Macintosh-produced edition of The Examiner after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake led to a power shutdown that idled the newspaper's publishing system.[13]

Turning the Examiner into a "digital laboratory,"[14] he converted the newspaper from black and white to color by implementing a production system of his own design that used Macintoshes to do color separations[15] and made The Examiner the first major American daily to switch to full-color production using desktop technology,[16] with the first colored front page printed in January 1990.[17] Gulker's "'hacked-together' color calibration system allowed the Examiner to incorporate color for less than it cost other papers,"[18] making him "a leader in developing in-house capabilities to use color electronic images daily on deadline."[19]

Gulker's work, which redefined "the state of the art in editorial production methods among print-on-paper media,"[20] was driven by necessity. The Examiner, having recently switched from on-site letterpress equipment to a new flexographic press, wanted to use the new printing plant's color capability. However, under the joint operating agreement between the Examiner and its local rival, the San Francisco Chronicle,[21] any changes to the production facility, such as introducing color, would have required the consent of both parties to the agreement, and the Chronicle wasn't interested. To produce color for the new press, the Examiner therefore had to handle it in the newsroom.[17]

Gulker became director of development in November 1992.[22][23][24]

In 1994, Gulker's editorial workflow system, dubbed the "virtual newsroom", was demonstrated at both Seybold shows[20][25][26] and supported the creation of "a real Internet newspaper that used the 'Net throughout the process from story and photo solicitation to delivery."[25] The system provided the publishing infrastructure for The Gate, the online newspaper jointly operated by the San Francisco Examiner and the San Francisco Chronicle,[4] which made its precipitous debut on 3 November 1994[27] and came to be officially launched on 5 April 1995.[28]

Electric Examiner and the strike of 1994Edit

In 1994, as "a staff of one"[29] and encouraged by the owner of The Examiner, William Randolph Hearst III,[30] Gulker came to run a pilot project called The Electric Examiner,[31] which routed wire-service stories to the Web. Gulker wanted to expand this "prototype of a future Web site"[32] to distributing the actual reporting produced at the Examiner but was frustrated in this ambition,[33] as the Examiner was bound by a joint operating agreement with its local rival, the San Francisco Chronicle,[21] and could not move on its own when it came to venturing into new distribution modes.[23] When Gulker's project was previewed in August 1994 under the name The Gate as a joint operation between the two newspapers, it was judged the "furthest ahead"[23] among efforts to bring newspapers online.

The Electric Examiner became a focus of attention in the first two weeks of November 1994, when San Francisco's two major newspapers were hit by a strike in which some 2,600 journalists, editors, lorry drivers, press operators and paper handlers walked off their jobs.[34] Gulker did not join them. He sided with management[35][36][37] and set to work launching The Gate ahead of its scheduled debut in late November[27] by modifying his system so that the Electric Examiner would now appear daily on The Gate.[38] For the duration of the strike, Gulker's operation, which remained "heavily dependent on wire-service stories"[39] for lack of contributing journalists and editors, was the official online version of San Francisco's two largest newspapers. On one day during the strike, according to Gulker, "the Examiner delivered 80,000 print editions, while its Web site recorded 93,038 accesses."[24] Gulker was aware of the shortcomings of his project but hoped it would blaze a trail for online journalism after the strike, "when the full resources of the paper are available again."[27]

Within two days, the striking journalists set up their own online newspaper, the San Francisco Free Press,[40] and competed with The Gate as "the soul of the Examiner and the Chronicle."[41] Led by the Examiner's associate editor Bruce Koon and former SF Weekly editor Marcelo Rodriguez,[42] they operated from a makeshift newsroom using their own hardware and a local ISP for rented server space.[43] The strike lasted 11 days and its competition between two online newspapers has been hailed as "a milestone for online news."[43]


Gulker left The Examiner a few months after the strike and, reputed as an "Internet publishing guru,"[44] accepted an executive position at Apple Inc.[15][45] to "promote the Mac as the ideal publishing platform for the Internet."[46] At Apple, Gulker first came to manage a new group called Publishing and Media Markets,[47] then oversaw strategic relations for the company's Design and Publishing Markets group,[8] and as "Apple's design and publishing guru"[48] made frequent appearances as a speaker and panelist at publishing-oriented conferences.[16][49][50][51] As Apple's publishing business development manager he advocated the use of intranets for prepress productivity gains.[52]

Blogging pioneer and columnistEdit

Gulker's personal site has been online since early 1995.[49] The "news page" on, which launched in May 1997, was modeled after Dave Winer's Scripting News and ran on Winer's Frontier publishing software. Gulker, anticipating the work of Jorn Barger, was the first to propose a network of bloggers and pioneered two of the most effective means through which blogging emerged as a social medium, the blogroll and link attribution.[53]

From 1997 until 2003, Gulker contributed his column "The View from Silicon Valley" to the weekly technology supplement of the British newspaper The Independent, in which he distinguished himself through "sharp wit and literary ability".[5]

Startup advisor, Adobe SystemsEdit

Leaving Apple in 1999, Gulker became founder, senior manager or advisor to several startups. In September 1999, he joined the web development company Montclare Technologies as VP of marketing,[54] and in 2001 he became marketing vice president of RealTimeImage, a company specializing in high resolution streaming imaging.[55]

From 2004 to 2007, Gulker was product manager for the Acrobat family[56] at Adobe Systems.[57]

Cancer patientEdit

Gulker was diagnosed with an inoperable malignant glioma brain tumor in October 2006.[58] In his final years, despite his advancing paralysis, he traveled to France, took a tour of the American South, visited friends and shared his experiences as a cancer patient via his blog. Deciding against "heroic end-of-life measures"[59] he opted for palliative care rather than continued treatment.

In July 2010, his oncologist informed him that he had only a few months to live.[60] Gulker died peacefully at his home on 27 October 2010, aged 59.[2] He was survived by his wife of 29 years, Linda Hubbard Gulker.[4]


  1. ^ Gulker, Linda Hubbard (28 October 2010). "InMenlo founder Chris Gulker: March 10, 1951 – October 27, 2010". Retrieved 28 October 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Hubbard, Linda (27 October 2010). "It's a wrap…". Retrieved 2010-10-28. 
  3. ^ a b Kukuk, Christina Hange (27 January 2001). "High-tech future full of wonder: technology expert shares vision of wise net with Western Reserve students". Akron Beacon Journal. Akron, Ohio. pp. B6. 
  4. ^ a b c d Berton, Justin (11 November 2010). "Chris Gulker, photographer and Web pioneer, dies". SFGate. San Francisco. Retrieved 2010-11-11. 
  5. ^ a b c Davison, Phil (20 November 2010). "Chris Gulker: 'Independent' columnist and pioneer of the blogosphere". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  6. ^ "Personalities". The Washington Post. 12 May 1984. pp. C3. 
  7. ^ "In Memoriam: Christian 'Chris' Gulker 1951-2010". Press Photographers Association of Greater Los Angeles. 28 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-29. 
  8. ^ a b George, Don (17 November 1997). "Chris Gulker". Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  9. ^ Chan, Bryan (29 October 2010). "Chris Gulker, electronic publishing pioneer: 1951–2010". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  10. ^ Dungan, Jesse (2010-11-11). "Memorial service today for Menlo Park man remembered as digital publishing pioneer". Mercury News. Archived from the original on 2017-04-12. Retrieved 2017-04-12. 
  11. ^ "Former South Pasadena Resident, Blog Innovator, and Renowned Photographer Passes Away in Bay Area". South Pasadena Patch. 27 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  12. ^ Rasmussen, Randy L. (28 April 1991). "Seeing is believing". The Sunday Oregonian. Portland, Oregon. pp. B09. 
  13. ^ Rosenberg, Jim (6 February 1993). "Full-flexo printing in San Francisco: After delays and earthquake, experiments with components, consumables, coated stock". Editor & Publisher Magazine. 
  14. ^ Smith, Helene Cohen (8 April 1995). "Desktop Training: Acquiring skills, keeping up with software and adjusting to a new workflow take time". Editor & Publisher Magazine. pp. 18D. 
  15. ^ a b "Hellbox". The Cole Papers. March 1995. Retrieved 2010-08-12. 
  16. ^ a b Barker, Garry (23 June 1998). "Guru and the grail: The Mac Man". Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney, Australia. p. 4. 
  17. ^ a b "Making waves: San Francisco newspaper opts for digital prepress imaging, sends paper to press by microwave". American Printer. 207 (3): 26–29. June 1991. ISSN 0744-6616. 
  18. ^ Smith, Helene (30 September 1995). "A primer in open Systems color management: The basics of color matching across prepress devices". Editor & Publisher Magazine. pp. 22C. 
  19. ^ Hollis, Robert (April 1994). "Free-lancers learn need to join the digital photo revolution". The Cole Papers. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  20. ^ a b "The Virtual Newsroom extends publishing into realm of on-line media: Radius and San Francisco Examiner demonstration booth at Seybold Boston '94 debuts public agent 'newspaper'". Business Wire. Boston. 23 March 1994. 
  21. ^ a b Farhi, Paul (September 1999). "The Death of the JOA". American Journalism Review. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  22. ^ "Bit Bucket". The Cole Papers. 3 (11). November 1992. Retrieved 2010-08-18. 
  23. ^ a b c Scott, Michael (13 August 1994). "Newspapers catch on to the Internet-slowly". The Vancouver Sun (British Columbia). 
  24. ^ a b Pegoraro, Rob (17 November 1994). "A Striking Debut: News Sans Paper". The Washington Post. p. D7. 
  25. ^ a b "SF papers finally hit the online trail". News Inc. 18 April 1994. Retrieved 2010-08-26. 
  26. ^ "Seybold San Francisco '94". Newsbytes. San Francisco. 16 September 1994. 
  27. ^ a b c Bank, David (4 November 1994). "2 sides in S.F. strike take to Cyberspace". San Jose Mercury News. San Jose. pp. 1D. 
  28. ^ "Chronicle, Examiner Open an Online Service -- The Gate". The San Francisco Chronicle. 5 April 1995. pp. D2. 
  29. ^ Gulker, Chris (December 1994). "The Web, or can you succeed on-line by giving things away?". The Cole Papers. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  30. ^ Gulker, Chris (25 June 2001). "They've put friction back into the 'frictionless economy'". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2010-09-01. 
  31. ^ Gulker, Chris (31 August 1994). "News Wires". Electric Examiner. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  32. ^ Deutschman, Alan (June 1995). "Stop the Presses". Wired. 3 (6). Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  33. ^ Winer, Dave (7 November 1994). "Dave's Automated Webster". DaveNet. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  34. ^ "Agreement in San Francisco Newspaper Strike". New York Times. 13 November 1994. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  35. ^ Gulker, Chris (December 1994). "Walking on Fifth Street". Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  36. ^ Gulker, Chris (6 October 2009). "An addendum, 15 years after the fact". Retrieved 2010-08-08. 
  37. ^ Powell, George (December 1994). "On the Internet, there are no picket lines". The Cole Papers. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  38. ^ Lewis, Peter H. (9 November 1994). "A Newspaper Labor Dispute Spawns an On-Line Rivalry". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  39. ^ King, Patricia (21 November 1994). "On Strike But Online, Too". Newsweek. p. 106. 
  40. ^ "San Francisco Free Press". The Well. November 1994. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  41. ^ Morse, Rob (13 November 1999). "Winning the good fight". The San Francisco Free Press. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  42. ^ "SF Free Press staffbox". The Well. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  43. ^ a b Bialik, Carl (12 May 2004). "Freeing the Press: A newspaper labor action in 1994 led to an 11-day online-news experiment [paywalled article]". The Wall Street Journal Online. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  44. ^ "Driftnetting". Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney, Australia. 11 April 1995. p. 43. 
  45. ^ Webb, William (18 March 1995). "Apple executive tells newspapers about new media: Newly named manager for Apple Computer previously held post at S.F. Examiner". Editor & Publisher Magazine. p. 24. 
  46. ^ Lowe, Sue (25 April 1995). "Now for the Internet Daily". Sydney Morning Herald (Australia). Sydney, Australia. p. 30. 
  47. ^ Martin, Teresa A. (April 1995). "Photographers find new media still need pictures". The Cole Papers. Retrieved 2010-08-19. 
  48. ^ Barker, Garry (24 February 1998). "Apple hits the loud pedal in publishing". The Age. Melbourne, Australia. p. 3. 
  49. ^ a b Wright, Charles (20 April 1995). "Kafka's father's approach is right for computers". The Age. Melbourne, Australia. p. 24. 
  50. ^ "Seybold - Apple Aims AIX-Based Servers at 7 Markets". Newsbytes. 28 February 1996. 
  51. ^ Cole, David (May 1995). "Web discussions dominate 15th annual Seybold Seminars". The Cole Papers. Retrieved 2011-07-09. 
  52. ^ Rosenberg, Jim (7 February 1998). "Troubles and Technologies". Editor & Publisher Magazine. New York. p. 30. 
  53. ^ Ammann, Rudolf (2009). "Jorn Barger, the NewsPage network and the emergence of the weblog community". Proceedings of the 20th ACM conference on hypertext and hypermedia. Torino, Italy. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  54. ^ Benson, Colleen (9 October 1999). "People In Business". The San Francisco Chronicle. p. B4. 
  55. ^ Rosenberg, Jim (8 June 2001). "People". Editor and Publisher Magazine. p. 20. 
  56. ^ Zipper, Bernd (2006). "Adobe on Acrobat 8". The Seybold Report: Analyzing Publishing Technologies. 6 (8): 20–21. 
  57. ^ "Bit Bucket". The Cole Papers. April 2004. Retrieved 2010-08-12. 
  58. ^ Gulker, Chris (26 October 2006). "My brain, and some news about same". Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  59. ^ "Chris and Linda Gulker blog about life as death nears" (PDF). The Caring Line. San Mateo, CA. November 2010. p. 1. Archived from the original on 27 July 2011. 
  60. ^ Gulker, Chris (17 July 2010). "You know you're probably going to have a bad day when…". Retrieved 2010-08-08. 

External linksEdit