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Ziff Davis Inc. (ZD) is an American publisher and Internet company. It was founded in 1927 in Chicagomarker by William B. Ziff, Sr. and Bernard G. Davis. Throughout most of its history, it was a publisher of hobbyist magazines, often ones devoted to expensive, advertiser-rich hobbies such as cars, photography, and electronics. However, since 1980, Ziff Davis has primarily published computer and technology related magazines, and its growing number of websites, spun off from its magazines, have established Ziff Davis as an Internet Information company.

Ziff Davis had several broadcasting properties, first in the mid-1970s, and later with its own technology network ZDTV, later renamed to TechTV, that was sold to Vulcan Ventures in 2001. Ziff Davis' magazine publishing and Internet operations offices are based in New York City, San Francisco and Woburn.

The company (Ziff Davis Media) announced that it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on March 5, 2008 and emerged, following a court supervised corporate restructuring in July 2009.

On January 6, 2009, they sold to UGO Entertainment, a division of Hearst Corporation and announced the January 2009 issue of the long-running EGM magazine as the final one.


Popular Aviation

An early issue of Popular Aviation; the first magazine published by Ziff Davis.
The covers were paintings for the first decade.

The William B. Ziff Company, founded 1920, was a successful Chicago advertising agency that secured advertising from national firms such as Procter & Gamble for virtually all African American weekly newspapers. In 1923, Ziff acquired E. C. Auld Company, a Chicago publishing house. Ziff firsts venture in magazine publishing was Ziff's Magazine which featured short-stories, one-act plays, humorous verse, and jokes. The title was changed to America's Humor in April 1926.

Bernard George Davis was the student editor of the University of Pittsburgh's humor magazine, the Pitt Panther, and was active in the Association of College Comics of the East. In his senior year he attended the association's convention and met William B. Ziff. When Davis graduated in 1927 he joined Ziff as the editor of America's Humor.

Ziff, who had been an aviator in World War I, created a new magazine, Popular Aviation, in August 1927 that was published by Popular Aviation Publishing Company of Chicago, Illinois. Under Editor Harley W. Mitchell it became the largest aviation magazine with a circulation of 100,000 in 1929. The magazine's title became Aeronautics in June 1929 and the publishing company's name became Aeronautical Publications, Inc. The title was changed back to Popular Aviation in July 1930. The magazine became Flying in 1942 and is still published today by the Bonnier Corporation. The magazine celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2007.

The company histories normally give the founding date as 1927. This is when B.G. Davis joined and Popular Aviation magazine started. It was not until 1936 that the company became the "Ziff-Davis Publishing Company". (Popular Aviation, April 1936, was the first issue by Ziff-Davis Publishing.) Davis was given a substantial minority equity position in the company and was appointed a vice-president and director. He was later named president in 1946. Davis was a photography enthusiast and the editor of the Popular Photography magazine started in May 1937.

Fiction and hobbyist magazines

In early 1938, Ziff-Davis acquired Radio News and Amazing Stories magazines. These were founded by Hugo Gernsback but sold in the Experimenter Publishing bankruptcy in 1929. Both magazines had declined since the bankruptcy but the resources of Ziff-Davis rejuvenated them starting with the April 1938 issues. Radio News was published until 1972 and in 1955 spun off Popular Electronics which was published until 1985. Amazing Stories was a leading science fiction magazine and Ziff Davis soon added a new companion, Fantastic Adventures (FA). In 1954 FA was folded by merger into the newer Fantastic, founded in 1952 to great initial success. ZD published a number of other pulp magazines and, later, digest-sized fiction magazines in the 1940s and 1950s, and continued to publish Amazing and Fantastic till 1965.

William B. Ziff, Sr., died in 1953 and son William B. Ziff, Jr. returned from Germanymarker to assume his role in the company. In 1958 Bernard G. Davis sold his share of Ziff Davis to found Davis Publications. Under the younger Ziff's direction, the company soon became a successful publisher of enthusiast magazines. Ziff Davis purchased titles like Car and Driver and by gearing content towards enthusiasts and readers who made purchasing decisions for their companies ("brand specifiers"), the company was able to attract advertising money that other, general-interest publications were losing.

In 1958, Ziff-Davis began publishing a magazine, HiFi and Music Review, for those who were interested in the growing hobby of high fidelity equipment. Ultimately, the magazine evolved into Stereo Review. Ziff-Davis sold the magazine to Hachette-Fillipachi in the late 1980s.

In the 1970s and 1980s the company's success grew with this approach and a rapidly expanding interest in electronics and computing. With titles such as PC Magazine, Popular Electronics, and Computer Shopper, Ziff Davis rose to the top of the technology magazine business.

Television stations

In 1979, Ziff Davis expanded into broadcasting, following an acquisition of television stations originally owned by greeting card company Rust Craft. Ziff Davis's stations included NBC affiliates WROC-TVmarker in Rochester, New Yorkmarker and WRCB-TVmarker in Chattanooga, Tennesseemarker, CBS affiliates WEYI-TVmarker in Saginaw, Michiganmarker, WRDW-TVmarker in Augusta, Georgiamarker and WSTV-TVmarker in Steubenville, Ohiomarker (which changed its calls to WTOV-TV and its network affiliation to NBC after Ziff Davis assumed control of the station), and ABC affiliate WJKS-TVmarker in Jacksonville, Floridamarker (which would also switch to NBC shortly after its acquisition was finalized). These stations would be sold off to other owners (mainly "Television Station Partners") by the mid-1980s.

Current DMA# Market Station Years Owned Current Affiliation/Owner
47. Jacksonville, Floridamarker WJKS-TV 17
(now WCWJmarker)
1979-82 The CW affiliate owned by Nexstar Broadcasting Group
66. Saginawmarker - Flint, Michiganmarker WEYI-TVmarker 25 1979-83 NBC affiliate owned by Barrington Broadcasting
80. Rochester, New Yorkmarker WROC-TVmarker 8 1979-83 CBS affiliate owned by Nexstar Broadcasting Group
86. Chattanooga, Tennesseemarker WRCB-TVmarker 3 1979-82 NBC affiliate owned by Sarkes Tarzian, Inc.
115. Augusta, Georgiamarker WRDW-TVmarker 12 1979-83 (?) CBS affiliate owned by Gray Television
159. Steubenville, Ohiomarker - Wheeling, West Virginiamarker WSTV-TV/
WTOV-TVmarker 9
1979-83 NBC affiliate owned by Cox Enterprises

Technology magazines and web properties

Ziff Davis first started technology-themed publications in 1954, with Popular Electronics and, more briefly, Electronics World led more or less directly to its interest in home-computer magazines. Since then, Ziff Davis became a major player in the field of computer and internet related publishing. In 1982 it acquired PC Magazine. In 1988 it acquired the trade journal MacWEEK. In 1989 the company launched the ZDNet site. In 1991 ZDNet on CompuServe and on the fledgling internet were augmented by the purchase of Public Brand Software, the leading shareware disk provider. In 1995 it launched the magazine Yahoo! Internet Life, initially as ZD Internet Life. The magazine was meant to accompany and complement the site Yahoo!.

In 1998, Ziff Davis started ZDTV, a technology-themed television network. ZDTV was sold to Paul Allen's Vulcan Inc. in 2000, and was renamed to TechTV.

In 2001 Ziff Davis Media Inc. reached an agreement with CNET Networks Inc. and ZDNet to regain the URLs lost in the 2000 sale of Ziff Davis Inc, to SoftBank. The Ziff Davis Media Inc. partnership of Willis Stein & Partners and James Dunning (former Ziff Davis CEO, chairman, and president) gained the online content licensing rights to 11 publications, including PC Magazine, CIO Insight and eWEEK, home to industry insiderSpencer Katt.

Since 2004, Ziff Davis has annually hosted a trade show in New York City known as DigitalLife. DigitalLife showcases the newest technology in consumer electronics, gaming and entertainment. Unlike E3 or the Worldwide Developers Conference, DigitalLife is open to the public.

In November 2006, Ziff Davis announced the cancellation of the Official Playstation Magazine. They cited a lack of interest in the magazine (and its demo disk) due to digital distribution. OPM had run since 1997.

In July 2007, Ziff Davis Media announced the sale of their enterprise division to Insight Venture Partners. The sale included all B2B publications which include eWeek, Baseline and CIOinsight and all related online properties. The enterprise division is now a stand alone company called "Ziff Davis Enterprise Group."

Bankruptcy Protection

In March 2008 Ziff Davis Media Inc announced it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in order to restructure its debt and operations. This was after selling their B2B (Business to Business) division, Ziff Davis Enterprise to Insight Partners. In conjunction with this announcement they also stated that they are discontinuing their print copy of PC Magazine.

According to BtoBonline, Ziff Davis Media has reached an agreement with an ad hoc group of noteholders, who will provide $24.5 million to fund the firm’s operations and help plan the restructure.

Current magazines

Current properties

Sold properties

Discontinued magazines and websites



  • De la Merced, Michael J., "William B. Ziff Jr., 76, Builder of Magazine Empire Dies", The New York Times, September 12, 2006.
  • Thorsen, Tor. "RIP OPM." GameSpot. CNET Networks. 20 Nov 2006 [51620].
  • "Ziff Davis Media: Press Release." Ziff Davis Reports Fourth Quarter 2005 Results. Ziff Davis Publishing Inc.. 8 Oct 2006 [51621].

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