Patrick J. McGovern, who became a billionaire as founder and majority owner of Boston-based technology publisher International Data Group, died March 19 at a hospital in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 76.

The company announced the death but did not cite a cause. Mr. McGovern lived in Hollis, N.H.

IDG publishes 180 print publications, 460 Web sites and market research, almost all focused on technology. Its brands include CIO, Computerworld, GamePro, InfoWorld and TechWorld. It is responsible for 700 industry conferences, including the annual Macworld/iWorld expo for users of Apple products.

The closely held company, with $3.6 billion in annual revenue, reached more than 280 million regular readers of its publications in 2013.

Mr. McGovern had a net worth of $6.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, making him the 205th-richest person in the world and 66th-richest in the United States.

Among his company’s creations was the “For Dummies” series of how-to books, which was later spun off.

In a 2004 interview with Newsweek, Mr. McGovern said those titles came about because the head of his book division “heard people asking for books not written for programmers by programmers, but something really dumb — for somebody who just wants to make it easy. And so I thought, in that context, it could be plausible.”

The series is now published by John Wiley & Sons.

Patrick Joseph McGovern was born Aug. 11, 1937, in Queens and was raised mostly in Philadelphia.

His career in publishing began while he was a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, when he applied for a part-time editorial job at the publication Computers and Automation.

After graduating from MIT in 1959 with a degree in biophysics, he was named the magazine’s associate editor. He later became associate publisher.

He founded International Data Corp. — now a unit of IDG — in 1964 to compile statistics on the nascent computer industry. Three years later he introduced his first magazine, the weekly Computerworld.

In 2000, he and his wife, Lore Harp McGovern, pledged $350 million over 20 years to create the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT.

— Bloomberg News