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Memorial Tributes, Volume 12
ALAN F. SHUGART 1930–2006
Elected in 1997
“For contributions to disc memory devices and interfaces for personal computers.”
BY GORDON F. HUGHES
SUBMITTED BY THE NAE HOME SECRETARY
ALAN F. SHUGART, pioneer of the multibillion-dollar computer hard-drive industry and co-founder of Seagate Technology, died December 12, 2006, at the age of 76, of complications from heart surgery six weeks earlier. Shugart was one of the most influential and admired figures in the industry.
After graduating from the University of Redlands in 1951 with a degree in engineering physics, Al began his career at IBM, where he worked on RAMAC, the world’s first disk drive, which could store 5 million characters of data, weighed a ton, and took more than a second to access stored data. He continued at IBM for 18 years, working on or leading many significant disk-drive development programs, including the groundbreaking 1311 removable disk-pack drive. By the time he left the company, in 1969, he was director of engineering.
From 1969 to 1972, Al was vice president of product development at Memorex, which became IBM’s primary competitor in drive sales. When he left Memorex, he launched Shugart Associates with several loyal followers. The company designed a smaller-diameter floppy-disk drive that was used in the 1979 Apple II, which became the first mass-market PC thanks largely to Al’s floppy disk, which eliminated the laborious chore of reentering data and programs every time the computer was turned on.