A hard disk crash isn’t the worst that can happen
Al Shugart, an engineer on the first commercial disk drive (see Happy Birthday, Rotating Rust!) and later founder of Shugart Associates, a leading floppy drive maker, and still later, disk titan Seagate, died Tuesday.

He founded Seagate with Finis Connor in 1979. Connor later went on to found Connor Peripherals, the early leader in 3.5″ drives, that Seagate bought to help them get into the 3.5″ drive market. Seagate is one of the few disk drive makers to survive form factor transitions – the leading cause of failure for drive makers over the decades.

Al was fired from Seagate in 1998. The single best article on Al I found is Al Shugart Dies: We’ll Miss the Genuine Silicon Valley Article.

Update: Werner Vogel, Amazon’s CTO, had a good note about Al that I just discovered. Much better than mine, so I’m quoting part of it:

We also have to remember that it wasn’t just the love and fun that brought Al Shugart to the absolute top of the computer industry. Al was a fearless leader, very, very smart, with a deep understanding of the storage industry and the needs of its customers. He created a company that took the number one position from IBM in the eighties and maintained that ever since. In the fiercely competitive storage market that must mean something. Anyone worth its grain of salt in storage wanted to work for Al, as he would seriously invest in you to make you grow. Al strongly believed in roaming the engineer’s workspaces to keep in contact with the real world. Many Seagate customers still carry his personal phone number to “call any time with any question”. In the end there was the “revenge of the MBA’s” and Seagate was streamlined into a fast and efficient production machine, with Al looking on from afar.

Read the rest here.