CIO magazine\u2019s Hall of Fame started with Joe Levy and his idea to honor the leaders of the information age. Yet the founder and longtime president of CIO didn\u2019t actually have CIOs in mind\u2014at least not at first. \n\n \n It was 1997, and the CIO title was just gaining recognition and respect in the vendor community. \u201cThe truth is, I wanted to get more ad pages,\u201d says Levy, who retired from CIO in 2002 and started Quadragon Group, a business consultancy based in Weston, Mass. \u201cWe had a bunch of big advertisers who never did anything with us, and I figured if we created a Hall of Fame for these leaders of the information age\u2026well, they\u2019d have to pay attention!\u201d (For more on this year's Hall of Fame class, see "2010 CIO Hall of Fame Inductees Tout Business Breakthroughs.")\n \n The editors took Levy\u2019s original idea and expanded it to include 12 of the most influential IT leaders of the time. This first class to be inducted into the Hall of Fame were CIOs deploying technologies that changed the business landscape at companies such as Wal-Mart, Merrill Lynch, AT&T, Xerox and DuPont.\n \n \u201cIt was a really big deal,\u201d recalls Abbie Lundberg, CIO's former editor in chief. \u201cWe interviewed a ton of people in business and academia to identify the most accomplished, respected CIOs in the country.\u201d Coinciding with the magazine\u2019s 10-year anniversary, the 1997 \u201cDecade of the CIO\u201d special issue was a smash hit on the business side. Levy ordered a limited-edition printing of 5,000 hard-bound copies and delivered them personally to every industry titan on his list. That included Oracle\u2019s Larry Ellison, Microsoft\u2019s Bill Gates, Sun\u2019s Scott McNealy, Intel\u2019s Andy Grove, Cisco\u2019s John Chambers and many more. Everyone he visited became regular advertisers, driving millions in revenue over the years.\n \n His favorite meeting took place at Ellison\u2019s house, over a lunch that went well past its allotted time while a group of Defense Department officials impatiently waited for their meeting with the Oracle chieftain. \u201cI took the high road with Larry and never even mentioned advertising,\u201d Levy says. \u201cFinally, after this meeting that lasted hours, he\u2019s escorting us out the door and I say, \u2018By the way, here\u2019s the latest issue of CIO, I don\u2019t know if you ever see it.\u2019 He says, \u2018I read it all the time; it\u2019s my favorite publication.\u2019\u201d\n \n CIO editor Rick Pastore, now vice president of editorial and programs for the CIO Executive Council, coordinated the special-issue project. He remembers the most entertaining twist in the vendor profiles as the part where each CEO was asked to pick an animal that best characterized their companies. Michael Dell went with a great white shark \u201cbecause it gobbles up its competitors,\u201d while CEO Eric Benhamou of 3Com Corp. (acquired earlier this year by HP) selected a dolphin (for its agility).\n \n That first CIO Hall of Fame induction became a milestone in the rising prominence of the CIO role. \u201cJoe was the first to see the growing role of the CIO and the importance it would and will have on corporate America,\u201d says Michael Friedenberg, CEO of IDG Enterprise, which publishes CIO magazine. \u201cHis ability to not only see this trend but develop this high-impact media brand and community of CIOs is a great testament to his innovative spirit.\u201d\n \n \u201cWhen I created CIO, there were lots of IT magazines on the market, so this had to be something different,\u201d Levy says. \u201cMy theory was that it\u2019s not about technology but about the people behind it. For me, it was always about the CIOs.