May 13 – Storage Interfaces

Storage Interfaces

Tuesday,   May 11, 2021

1:30 – 3:00 PM PT

Co-sponsored with the IEEE Santa Clara Valley Magnetics Society


Garden of Earthly Delights, Gamma Iron Oxide Valley, Silicon Valley or whatever one calls it, the valley is the home of the hard disk drive industry. Its companies, products and technologies have been the subject of much historical interest.  The history of their attachment to systems is the little explored subject of this webinar.  The focus is primarily on disk drives (SSD and HDD) and their control but much of the history is common to other storage devices like tape.

Evolution of storage controllers

Storage connects to systems thru layers with interfaces between the layers that have evolved over time – smaller size, lower cost and higher performance.  Early on “dumb” interfaces evolved in the market from the wide interfaces of dominant mainframe and minicomputer interfaces, e.g., DEC RP0x, SMD, etc.  Over time the interfaces became smarter, serial and sponsored by industry consortia (e.g., SCSI, SATA, NVMe), while at the same time function moved around in the various layers (e.g.  RAID, Caching, etc.)

Four industry participants will share with you their experiences in making storage work with computers.


Presentation – Part 1

Presentation – Part 2


Amber HuffmanAmber Huffman is a distinguished Fellow and Chief Technologist in the IP Engineering Group at Intel Corporation. Huffman has devoted her career to I/O and memory interfaces since joining Intel in 1998 with her early work focused on Serial ATA (SATA) technology. A respected authority on storage, memory and IO architecture, she defined, created and drove the NVMe storage standard including forming and chairing the NVM Express (NVMe) Workgroup and continues to chair the board of directors for the NVMe Workgroup and the Open NAND Flash Interface (ONFI) Workgroup. Huffman earned a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University and has been granted more than 20 patents in storage architecture.
Jai MenonJai Menon is the Chief Scientist at Fungible, a pioneer in data-centric computing. Previously he served as CTO for multi-billion dollar Systems businesses (Servers, Storage, Networking) at both IBM and Dell. At IBM, he impacted every significant IBM RAID product between 1990 & 2010, and he co-invented one of the earliest RAID-6 codes in the industry called EVENODD. He was also the leader of the IBM Research team that initiated and drove the creation of the industry’s first, and still the most successful, storage virtualization product.  Jai holds 53 patents, has published 82 papers, and is a contributing author to three books on database and storage systems. He is an IEEE Fellow and an IBM Master Inventor, a Distinguished Alumnus of both Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and Ohio State University, and a recipient of the IEEE Wallace McDowell Award and the IEEE Reynold B. Johnson Information Systems Award.
Grant SaviersGrant Saviers was with Digital Equipment Corporation from 1968 to 1992.  As VP Storage Systems he grew the business from $3M to $4B+ and was responsible for all disk, tape (inventing DLT), memory, subsystem, and clustering products.  DEC at one time was the largest purchaser of large disk drives. In 1990 he became VP PC Systems and Peripherals.

He joined Adaptec as a COO/President in 1992, becoming CEO in 1995 and chairman in 1997. Subsequent to retiring from Adaptec in 1998, he was a private investor/founder in several storage startups and served on the board of Analog Devices for 17 years.  He is now retired.   He earned his B.S. and M.S. in engineering (computing) from Case Tech/CaseWestern Reserve University.

Tom GardnerTom Gardner the moderator, is a member of the SV Technology History Committee and a long time participant in Silicon Valley’s storage industries starting with the interface between Memorex disk drives and DEC Systems that became the first OEM industry standard.  He testified on interface issues for the people in the US v. IBM anti-trust case.  At Shugart he was responsible for its SASI/SCSI product line and later at Auspex was an early participant in iSCSI.  He has an MS in Control Theory from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), an MS in Management from Stanford Graduate School of Business and is either retired or unemployed.


Apr 20 – Hubble Telescope Spacecraft

Tuesday, April 20, 2021
1:30 – 3:00 PM PDT

YouTube Live Steam Video 


The Hubble Space Telescope was the first of NASA’s great observatories in space. It was launched in 1990 and has provided an unbelievable amount of scientific data for over 30 years. This presentation will focus on the Lockheed portion of the Hubble through launch. Because the key to mission success is the ability to point and hold the telescope steady for long observations we will emphasize the design portion on the pointing control system. Some of the visual results from the Hubble will be displayed.

In 1977, Lockheed Space Systems in Sunnyvale was chosen to build the basic spacecraft that included the structure and mechanisms, the thermal control, pointing control system, communications, command and telemetry systems and electric power other than the solar arrays.  Other contractors provided the Optical Telescope, the 5 scientific instruments, and the solar arrays. In addition, Lockheed was responsible for all the system level assembly and test, including thermal vacuum chamber testing, and later launch base processing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Lockheed was also responsible for ensuring compatibility with the ground control at Goddard, the Space Shuttle interface and Astronauts at Johnson. A lot of people in Silicon Valley contributed and can feel proud of the results of their efforts; three of them will share their experiences in this webinar.


Jim Carlock, a 32 year employee of the Lockheed, started his career in 1967 as a guidance and controls engineer on the Agena and other Lockheed programs. From 1987 to 1991 Jim was program manager for the Hubble.  Subsequently he was program manager for Ikonos commercial imager, and the Lockheed portion of the International Space station.  He retired in 1999.  He received his BSEE from Tennessee Tech in 1967 and his MSEE from Stanford in 1969.




Cliff Gardner joined Lockheed in 1962 working first on the Agena and then the Hexagon programs.  From 1977 until 1990 he was involved with HST system test planning and execution from its beginning through to managing Systems Assembly and Test in Silicon Valley.  He then went to the Cape, where he directed the processing of the HST from verifying that it survived the shipping environment, to launch. He was one of the last three people to see the HST before launch. He was awarded the NASA Public Service Medal for his work on the HST.   He retired from Lockheed in 1997.  Cliff has a BS in Aeronautical Engineering and a BA in Industrial Management from the University of Colorado.


Hugh Dougherty joined Lockheed in 1966 having previously taught control systems at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  He was a technical consultant and control systems manager on the Hubble for which he received a number of awards including the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) Laurels Award for HST Team Achievement in 2004 as one of the 25 persons world-wide that were key to the development of Hubble Space Telescope.  He retired from Lockheed in 2003. Hugh holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer and a Mechanical Engineering degree from the Stevens Institute of Technology.


Tom Gardner, the moderator, is a member of the SV Technology History Committee and a long time participant in Silicon Valley’s storage industries.  He has an MS in Control Theory from RPI, an MS in Management from Stanford Graduate School of Business and is either retired or unemployed.





Oct 8 – Lockheed’s Reconnaissance Satellites

Virtual Event

Thursday, October 8, 2020
1:30 PM Pacific Time

Venue:  On Line

IEEE SV Technology History committee is extremely grateful to KeyPoint Credit Union for the past usage of their auditorium as a venue.  Many thanks to Doron Noyman of KeyPoint for his support.

Lockheed’s Reconnaissance Satellites
Looking from above the Iron Curtain

Presentation Materials

Video Recording


CORONA, was America’s first eye-in-the-sky space mission.  Lockheed Missiles and Space Systems (Lockheed) here in Silicon Valley was the system integrator of the Corona payload which included new camera, film and recovery capsule as well as the developer of never flown Agena which served as the upper stage to the Thor booster and spacecraft.  It was breakthrough technology in all aspects.

The CORONA program depended on the development of a new spacecraft, Agena, designed and built by Lockheed.  Agena subsequently went on to support multiple other missions for many other customers, and essentially became America’s first space utility vehicle, with 362 launches over three decades.  Lockheed veterans will discuss the original CORONA mission and the key challenges Agena had to meet for long-term success.  They will illustrate how Agena subsystems and technologies coevolved and advanced together with system integration and test techniques, and how the program experiences taught the aerospace industry many fundamental lessons, including how to successfully specify and accommodate products from multiple suppliers.


Sam Araki was one of the first team members on the CORONA Program as a system engineer for the Agena spacecraft and the three-axis stabilized spacecraft for the camera payload. At Lockheed for 38 years he retired in 1997 as the President of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space Company. He is a Fellow of the American Astronautical Society and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He received the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ von Braun Award (2004) for Excellence in Space Program Management and the National Academy of Engineering’s Charles Stark Draper Prize (2005) for his contributions to the advancement of engineering. He was named a Pioneer of National Reconnaissance (2004) by the National Reconnaissance Office.

Miles Johnson a thirty two year Lockheed employee retired in 1994 as VP Engineering of the Lockheed Martin Space System Division (SSD). Upon graduation from The Ohio State University in 1961 Miles joined Lockheed at Vandenberg AFB as a Guidance & Control engineer on the Agena/Corona Program. He advanced to the position of Lockheed Launch Conductor and participated in 8+ launches before transitioning to Lockheed’s Silicon Valley facilities where he was responsible for Agena/Corona system engineering & integration. He held subsequent SSD Program management assignments of Manager Engineering Integration, Chief System Engineer, Program Manager and Vice President Special Programs.

Jim Carlock a 32 year employee of the Lockheed. He started his career in 1967 as a guidance and controls engineer on the Agena and other military programs. He was later involved in other space technology applications and became program manager for the Hubble Space Telescope, Ikonos commercial imager, and the Lockheed portion of the International Space station.

Terry Zaccone a thirty-one year Lockheed employee, retired in 2000. After graduating from UC Berkeley, he joined Lockheed and worked on was the Barnes Horizon Sensor for the Agena. He continued his studies while working, receiving his MA in Physics from San Jose State and his PhD in Psychoacoustics from Stanford in 1982. Dr. Zaccone worked on Strategic Defense Programs as Manager of Lockheed’s Optical Systems Department in their Palo Alto Research Labs,. He then joined the Astronautics Division as Chief Systems Engineer for the Ground Based Free Electron Laser Technology Integration Experiment (GBFEL-TIE).

Hugh Satterlee will discuss thermodynamics of Agena and subsequent spacecraft.

Bill Monroe an eight year Lockheed veteran spent the following eight years with Itek Corporation, the Corona camera manufacturer. He contributed to the thermal control design of both the Agena satellite and Corona payload. He has a BS, Mechanical Engineering from UC Berkeley and an MSME degree at Santa Clara University. His work with Itek cameras also gave him opportunities at the Lockheed Skunk Works in Burbank, where he worked with both the U-2 and SR-71 design teams.

Tom Gardner will moderate. He is our committee’s treasurer and webmaster. Tom has extensive experience in the computer storage industry.

ZOOMING in on Data Storage and the HDD

Just discovered

A Western Digital tutorial in 2016 by Dr. Roger Wood, WD Fellow, which takes a look at storage in general starting with a tape drive now beyond the solar system and zooming by orders of magnitude down to the atomic level of modern hard disk drives.  Along the way his tutorial passes above the IBM San Jose facility where the first hard disk drive was invented.

Click here to view

July 22 – Video Conferencing: Silicon Valley’s 50-Year History

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020
1:30 – 3:00 PM PDT

Virtual Event


The COVID-19 pandemic looks like it will be the catalyst that turns video conferencing into an everyday communications tool for use by everyday people. This 50+ year overnight success story has roots dating back to at least the 1964 World’s Fair with AT&T’s vision of a videophone that would be as simple to use as a telephone. 

To realize that vision, many different technologies would have to be invented, refined and cost-reduced, including video capture and associated screens, broadband infrastructure and the cloud, and the digitalization of audio and video and the associated compression algorithms. The names of many of the Silicon Valley start-ups and companies, like CLI, C-Cube, and Divicom that built the foundation for video conferencing are no more, but some, like 8×8 and Intel, remain.

Join the IEEE Silicon Valley Technology History Committee as we look back at this service where the hype and marketing often raced ahead of the technology and infrastructure. Our speakers will provide the lessons they learned along the way and explain how slowly the various building blocks came together and were ready to deliver when the market was ready. Finally, we will take a glimpse into the future to see what is next, whether it is about improving security to the role of future technologies, like virtual reality in creating richer communication experiences.



Dave House: Senior VP of Intel when they purchased the DVI technology from David Sarnoff Research Center Laboratories. This technology brought multimedia to the DOS-based PCs and later became a fundamental building block for Intel’s ProShare video conferencing system. House went on to lead telecom and networking stalwarts, such as Bay Networks, Nortel, and Brocade. He is currently the proprietor of the highly acclaimed House Family Vineyards.

Eric Dorsey: Director of Engineering at Compression Laboratories, a pioneer in video compression for both video conferencing and television distribution networks. He was involved in the initial meetings of the MPEG standard committees and went on to senior roles at notable set-top companies, such as Thompson and TiVo. More recently, he worked on a project for preserving Dr. Stephen Hawking’s synthetic voice

Bryan Martin: A member of the Technical Staff that developed IIT’s Visual Processor Unit which CLI used as a replacement for discrete circuits. Martin went on to lead technical operations for the rebranded 8×8 and, as CEO, transitioned it from hardware to one of the pioneers in delivering Unified Communications as a Service using voice and video over IP. Currently, he is Chairman and CTO of 8×8, Inc.

Ken Pyle, the moderator is a member of the Board of this committee and traditionally our videographer.

Oct 10 – A Partial History of Makers in Silicon Valley

Thursday, October 10, 2019
6:00 PM: Doors open for refreshments and networking
6:30 to 8:30 PM: Presentation and Q&A

Registration and donation prepayment requested
Click Here


Bring ticket to meeting


KeyPoint Credit Union
2805 Bowers Ave (just off Central Expressway)
Santa Clara, CA 95051

Our Thanks To KeyPoint Credit Union

IEEE SV Tech History committee is extremely grateful to KeyPoint Credit Union for use of their auditorium as a venue.
Many thanks to Doron Noyman of KeyPoint for his support in making this happen.


Many people got interested in technology by taking things apart in order to learn how they work, and this was an important step in their learning how to build stuff themselves.  This event will feature important players in the history of the Maker/Hacker Community in Silicon Valley and beyond.  They will describe how various Maker communities started, and what their impact has been.  They will also offers insights into the trends that shaped the Maker movement, and will discuss why making is as important for our future as it was in our past.  It’s not just about tools and materials – it’s also about the people who learn to use them creatively.


Lee Felsenstein: CTO of Fonly LLC, and a Computer History Museum Fellow. One of the earliest engineers developing personal computers he took a countercultural route of exploration in finding development projects, leading to the realization that computers and terminals could be designed to “grow a computer club around itself” for support. In the process Lee helped set up the first public-access computer social media system, designed the first kit modem for hobbyists, and ran the meetings of the legendary Homebrew Computer Club. Calling himself “post-employable”, Lee takes on design contracts, speaks and writes about the relevance of personal computer history to today’s world

Dr. Andrew Cromarty: President and CEO of Heathkit. Dr. Cromarty has served as a corporate scientist and corporate marketer for several corporations, served on the Board of a corporate VC, and performed due diligence on over 60 opportunities for investments, mergers, and acquisitions.  At Heath Company, Dr. Cromarty has applied his corporate, startup and recovery skills to restore this century-old former $100 million manufacturing company from bankruptcy back to successful operations, developing and overseeing all manufacturing, staff development, product development, back-office and fulfillment operations, customer service, and marketing and sales. Heathkit now has shipped new products to thousands of customers worldwide under his leadership.

Doug Dougherty: CEO of Make Media is a leading advocate of the Maker Movement. He founded Make: Magazine in 2005, where the term “makers” was first used to describe people who enjoyed “hands-on” work and play.  Dale started the Maker Faire in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006, and this has led to nearly 200 events in 40 countries, with over 1.5M attendees.  Both Make: and Maker Faire were catalysts of the Maker Movement.  Dale is President of Make: Community, and was a co-founder of O’Reilly Media where he was an editor of many early technical books.  While at O’Reilly, he developed GNN, the first commercial website, which launched in 1993 and was sold to AOL in 1995.  He coined the term “Web 2.0.”

Camp Peavy: Founder of the HBRC Challenge and HomeBrewed Robots.

Tom Coughlin, the moderator, is an officer of the IEEE Silicon Valley Tech History Committee, an At-Large Director of IEEE-CNSV and the IEEE-USA President.


Jun 13- Challenger Shuttle disaster: Recovery of data from damaged tapes

Thursday, June 13, 2019
6:00 PM: Doors open for refreshments and networking
6:30 to 8:30 PM: Presentation and Q&A

Registration and donation prepayment requested

Bring ticket to meeting


KeyPoint Credit Union
2805 Bowers Ave (just off Central Expressway)
Santa Clara, CA 95051

Park in lot adjacent to building on Bowers Ave.

Our Thanks To KeyPoint Credit Union

IEEE SV Tech History committee is extremely grateful to KeyPoint Credit Union for use of their auditorium as a venue.
Many thanks to Doron Noyman of KeyPoint for his support in making this happen.

Additional sponsors:

Computer History Museum, Storage SIG
IEEE SCV Magnetics Society

Challenger Shuttle disaster: Recovery of data from damaged tapes


On January 28, 1986 the Challenger rocket disintegrated shortly after takeoff spreading debris over about 500 square miles.


As an introduction to this event Francine Bellson will cover how Silicon Valley’s engineering & education communities coalesced to return a personal token from the Challenger flight that local students had given to Astronaut Ronald McNair


About seven weeks after the disintegration tapes containing flight and crew data were recovered after having been immersed in 100 feet of salt water. They were so corroded that they resembled a brie doughnut and the data were deemed unrecoverable by NASA and the tape and the drive manufacturers.  A chance meeting of NASA officials with IBM scientists and engineers at IBM’s Tucson laboratory led to the recovery of the data.


Dr. Ric Bradshaw led the team that recovered the data. His observations, findings and conclusions are memorialized in a set of images that he will discuss at this meeting.  Ric has more than 40 years experience in tape media development and can share his opinions and observations on the state of the industry during the question and answer period.




Dr. Bradshaw received a B.S, in Chemistry from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and a PhD in Synthetic Organic/Polymer Chemistry from Arizona State University.  He joined the IBM Tucson laboratory in 1978 and was instrumental in the development of tape formulations starting with the 3480 and continuing thru to today’s LTO.  He was a member of the IBM Academy of Technology and has represented IBM at numerous storage industry and technology organizations.  He retired from IBM in 2007 and is now consulting to the storage industry.


Francine Bellson came from MIT (SM, Physics) to Silicon Valley in 1974, where she’s worked at Fairchild R&D, Varian Assocs. and IBM. Mrs. Bellson is an active member of this committee, a senior member of SWE, a Life member of IEEE and a member of IEEE-WIE.


Tom Gardner, the moderator, is is an active member of this committee


Oct 11 – Gravitational Waves and LIGO: A Technical History

Thursday, October 11, 2018
6:00 PM: Doors open for refreshments and networking
6:30 to 8:30 PM: Presentation and Questions


Venue: KeyPoint Credit Union
2805 Bowers Ave (just off Central Expressway)
Santa Clara, CA 95051

Park in lot adjacent to building on Bowers Ave.

Our Thanks To KeyPoint Credit Union

IEEE SV Tech History committee is extremely grateful to KeyPoint Credit Union for use of their auditorium as a venue.
Many thanks to Doron Noyman of KeyPoint for his support in making this happen.

Gravitational Waves and
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO):
A Technical History

This session will comprise a talk by Stan Whitcomb followed by a panel discussion.

Talk Abstract:

The first detection of gravitational waves by the LIGO is remarkable not only because of its impact on the Theory of General Relativity and on the astrophysics of neutron stars and black holes, but also because of the sensitivity of the detectors required. The LIGO interferometers had to be capable of discerning changes as small as 1E-18 m in the length of its 4-km long arms, certainly one of the most precise physical measurements ever made.

The LIGO Lab is operated by Caltech and MIT through funding from the National Science Foundation. It comprises observatories in Livingston, Louisiana and Hanford, Washington, in addition to the groups at Caltech and MIT. The broader LIGO Scientific Collaboration currently includes approximately 1000 scientists, engineers and students from more than 60 institutions in 12 countries. After thirty-five years of development and construction,

The first gravity waves detected by LIGO were created by the collision of two black holes was made simultaneously in Louisiana and Washington State on September 14, 2015 and announced on February 11, 2016. The detection of gravity waves confirmed the predictions of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and ushered in a new era of gravitational wave astronomy.

With its partner the Virgo Project, LIGO will form the core of an international network of gravitational wave detectors, seeking to learn about the universe through a new type of signal. To achieve this incredible sensitivity, LIGO scientists spent over 30 years understanding and overcoming a plethora of competing noise sources.

In this talk, Stan Whitcomb will describe a diverse handful of these noise sources, selected because of their importance to the project or their broader general interest, and trace the sometimes circuitous path that led to each one being brought under control

LIGO Presentation

LIGO Videos


  • Stan Whitcomb PhD, Former Chief Scientist of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory
    Stan received his BS degree in 1973 from Caltech and then a PhD at the University of Chicago in far-infrared and submillimeter astronomy in 1980. He returned to Caltech in 1980 as an assistant professor of physics, near the beginning of Caltech’s entry into the field of gravitational wave detection. He has been involved in nearly every phase of the effort to build LIGO—concept development, prototype sensitivity demonstration, detector design and installation, commissioning, data analysis, and management. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the Optical Society. He was awarded the Henry Draper Medal (National Academy of Sciences) in 2017, and the C.E.K. Mees Medal (OSA) in 2018.
  • Brian Lantz PhD, Senior Research Scientist, LIGO Group, Stanford University
    LinkedIn Biography
  • David Adler PhD, President and CEO of Silicon Valley X-Ray (SVXR)
    In 1981 Dave a sophomore at Caltech was offered a summer job by his physics teaching assistant, Yekta Gursel, to “build a gravity wave detector” on campus. That summer they bolted together the 40-meter predecessor to LIGO. For his senior thesis, Dave worked with Stan Whitcomb to develop a laser stabilizer for the gravity wave detector.  Since then, Dave has developed novel optical systems using ions, electrons and x-rays. He has about 100 patents covering ion, x-ray and electron optics and semiconductor inspection. He started SVXR in 2012 to develop 100x faster x-ray inspection systems.

HDD history as presented at Flash Memory Summit

A presentation on the history of the hard disk drive[i] at the August 2017 Flash Memory Summit identified “key figures” in the hard disk drive industry and their “breakthroughs” – the key figures were mainly PhD’s from IBM which is not surprising given IBM’s dominance of the industry into the 1990s and the fact that the presenter was also a PhD who spent most of his career at IBM.  It wasn’t my list but it is certainly true that everyone identified made significant contributions in HDD technology, products and/or markets.

However, there were a number of incomplete facts or actual errors that need correction, including but not limited to:

  1. RAMAC 350 disk storage – The first production unit shipped in November 1957 (not 1956), it weighed less than 1 ton (not more than) and had a purchase price of $34,500 (not about $50,000) for a capacity of 5 million 6-bit characters (3.75 megabytes not 5 megabytes).
  2. Al Hoagland – Hoagland’s many accomplishments do not include responsibility for either the RAMAC head or the 1301 Disc Storage. There is no question that he was involved in both programs but according to the historical record Edward Quade[ii] was responsible for the RAMAC transducer and Al Shugart was responsible for the 1301[iii]. The RAMAC magnetic transducer was initially developed in 1953[iv] within IBM SJ’s Physics department then led by Quade.  Hoagland a professor at Berkeley did consult with Quade in the summer of 1954[v]; he became full time IBM employee in mid-1956.[vi]
  3. Al Shugart & Finis Conner – Both are well known storage executives. Shugart was not in the storage industry[vii] when it was recognized that “a hard disk drive could replace a floppy drive as a valuable, high capacity product for the emerging desktop computers.”  The first such drive, the SA1000[viii] was publically announced before Shugart reentered the industry with the founding of Seagate Technology in late 1979.    Finis Conner from his experience as a sales executive at Shugart Associates was well aware of the success of the SA1000 when he approached Shugart to found Seagate.
  4. John Squires – The actual founding of Conner Peripherals is different than presented.  Squires with the help of Terry Johnson[ix] in June 1985 formed CoData in Colorado[x] and developed the first low cost 3½-inch 40 Mbyte drive.[xi]  Advised to seek stronger marketing management, Johnson and Squires recruited the then unemployed Finis Conner[xii] which ultimately resulted in the 1986 merger of CoData into Conner’s shell corporation, Conner Peripherals, with Conner as CEO.
  5. David A. Thompson – Thompson is cited for his work in development of the thin film head which although important to IBM was less significant in an industry that continued to improve ferrite heads. Since ultimately, the thin film structure did become the writing element for magnetoresistive heads the omission of the MR head from the presentation[xiii] and Thompson’s indisputably significant work on the MR head[xiv]  was somewhat surprising.
  6. Zoned Bit Recording (ZBR) – The first ZBR products were introduced into the market in the 1960s[xv] long before 1987, the earliest filing date of the three patents cited. Apple introduced a variant on ZBR with its 400K Macintosh Floppy Disk Drive in 1984.
  7. PRML (Francois Dolivo) – The first PRML product introduced to the storage market was not the IBM disk drive in 1990 based upon Dolivo’s work, but rather the Ampex DCRS (digital cartridge recording system) in 1984 based on the work of Coleman et. al.[xvi]

Time was limited so the presenter was limited in the number of key figures he could identify.  I do think there were three key figures that should have been included:

  1. Jack Harker – Harker was actually mentioned in passing but IMO his continuing accomplishments from RAMAC to the 3380 merit individual recognition. Among them was the reduction to practice of the first air bearing head[xvii] for disk storage which was then used in the 1301 and all subsequent disk drives, albeit with further improvements.
  2. Mike Warner – Warner holds the patent[xviii] on the Winchester head, a breakthrough to a low mass, low load, close flying and low cost head which in the opinion of Al Shugart was “one of the four most significant events in the history of mass storage.[xix]” Arguably this concept remains true to date albeit with further improvements.
  3. Tu Chen – As an individual contributor and as a founder of Komag Dr. Chen was instrumental in the commercialization of sputtered media.

On the whole it was interesting to hear one person’s view of the hard disk drive industry’s history.  Of course, mine is somewhat different.

Tom Gardner


[i]Hard Disk Drives: The Giants of the Storage Industry” Flash Memory Summit, August 10, 2017, Session 302B

[ii] [Kean] “IBM San Jose. A Quarter Century of Innovation,” David W. Kean, IBM, p.64, footnote 25

[iii] [Bashe]. “IBM’s Early Computers,” Bashe et al, MIT Press, ©1986,  p. 307

[iv] Ibid., p. 286

[v] Ibid., p. 95, Footnote 18

[vi] Ibid., p. 305

[vii] “Before starting Seagate, Mr. Shugart took a five-year hiatus from the computer industry, …,”  Alan F. Shugart, 76, a Developer of Disk Drive Industry, Dies, J Markoff, NY Times, December 15, 2006

[viii] “Winchester technology invades floppy territory with low-cost 8-in. drive,” L Yencharis, ELECTRONIC DESIGN 19, September 13, 1979, p. 70-75

[ix] Founder of MiniScribe

[x] “Disk-drive firm thinking small,” Denver Post, August 25, 1985, §B

[xi] Other low cost drives at that time used open loop stepper motor control and were unable to reliably achieve 40 Mbyte in a 3½-inch form factor

[xii] Oral History of John Squires, Computer History Museum, July 2009, p. 41-42

[xiii] Four slides (15-18)  naming four individuals jump from thin film heads to Giant Magneto Resistive heads skipping MR heads.

[xiv]MAGNETORESISTIVE (MR) HEADS,” C. Bajorek, Computer History Museum, November 2014, p. 5

[xv] Bryant Series 4000 Disc File and General Electric MRADS as cited in “Disc File Applications,” Informatics Inc., Culver City CA, © 1964

[xvi] “High data rate magnetic recording in a single channel,” Coleman, et. al., Journal of the Institution of Electronic and Radio Engineers, Vol. 55, No. 6, pp. 229-236. June 1985

[xvii] Op. cit., Bache, p.303

[xviii] U.S. Patent 3,823,416,  Michael W. Warner, July 9, 1974

[xix] See:

Sep 14 – Dialog: The Beginning of Online Search

Thursday, September 14, 2017
6:00 PM: Doors open for refreshments and networking
6:30 to 8:30 PM: Presentation and Questions

Venue: KeyPoint Credit Union
2805 Bowers Ave (just off Central Expressway)
Santa Clara, CA 95051

Park in lot adjacent to building on Bowers Ave.

Our Thanks To KeyPoint Credit Union

IEEE SV Tech History committee is extremely grateful to KeyPoint Credit Union for use of their auditorium as our prime venue.
Many thanks to Doron Noyman of KeyPoint for his support in making this happen.

Dialog: The Beginning of Online Search


A panel of former Dialog employees and a Dialog user will discuss growth of Dialog starting with its conception within Lockheed.

Dialog is a computer service that allows users to interactively search databases using keywords. When it was first used by NASA in 1967 and then commercially available in 1972, remote access was by way of a modem and telephone line. Dialog’s unique capabilities allow scientists, engineers and others to stay current with work in their fields. Created within Lockheed Corp., the system has been particularly popular for pharmaceutical, engineering, scientific, medical, educational and intellectual property research.

Prior to the availability of Dialog, research of existing work was performed primarily using printed published literature, microfilm and periodically-published indexes. The system has been in continual use for 50 years, including the 27 years that preceded the emergence of Internet search engines such as Lycos, Infoseek, AltaVista, Yahoo! and Google. Dialog broke ground for online search and provided a sound foundation for all that followed.

The panel will discuss insights that led to its development, how it grew as an intrepreneurial project within Lockheed, the transition to a services business as the Dialog Information Services company, strategies that led to its growth and dominance within the industry, and how Dialog was an important government, educational and corporate tool.  Also discussed will be its sale to Knight-Ridder in 1988.


Roger Summit, PhD, is the founder and Chairman Emeritus of Dialog.  He conducted pioneering work starting in 1964 that led to the creation of Dialog, and held executive positions there until his retirement in 1992.  He has served on national and international advisory boards, in professional associations, has received numerous honors, and has published over 100 papers and journal articles based on his knowledge of and experience with online information services.

Elizabeth Trudell, MLS, joined Dialog in 1983 and has been as a long-time member of the executive team, serving as VP of Global Marketing and VP of Product Management.  She has extensive experience in marketing, product management and strategic planning in the information industry, and she led the development and launch of the first web interface for Dialog.  Since 2014, she has been an Associate in the Information and Knowledge Strategy (IKNS) program at the Columbia University School of Professional Studies.  She also serves on the Advisory Board of the Center for Information Research and Innovation (CIRI) at San Jose State University’s I-School, and is Vice Chair of the Board of the non-profit organization Subud California.

Robert Simons, JD, joined Dialog in 1981, and served as General Counsel for 17 years.  Because of Dialog’s unique data access requirements, his activities ranged from developing database license agreements to serving as Dialog’s liaison to the Information Industry Association.  Simons also testified before government committees and panels in the US, Europe and Asia about the value of information to the emerging institutions that were able to benefit from online research. He currently provides legal guidance and advice to the pathology imaging products team of Leica Biosystems, a division of the Leica’s microscope company.

Peter Rusch’s PhD in Chemistry and his interest in computers and chemical information led to his joining the Chemical Abstracts Service’s research department at the American Chemical Society.  In that position he helped customers understand the increasing offerings of chemical information that were then distributed on magnetic tape media.  That work evolved to his being technical liaison to the developing online services.  After joining Dialog in 1975, he developed its chemical and patent information services.

Deborah Hunt, MLS, ECMp, has pursued parallel librarian careers in digital asset management and knowledge management.  She first used Dialog in 1984 to research scholarly works while assisting doctoral students in their areas of specialty which made her quickly appreciate Dialog’s power. She went on to found the first online user’s group in Nevada.  Her work with Dialog let her to write The Librarian’s Skillbook: 51 Essential Career Skills for Information Professionals.  Hunt is currently Library Director at the San Francisco-based Mechanics’ Institute Library, a consultant at Information Edge and a co-teacher of Special Libraries Association (SLA)’s Knowledge Management/Knowledge Services Certificate courses.

Photos Of Attendees