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Shugart Associates

Shugart Associates was a famous computer peripheral manufacturer, famous for introducing the floppy disk to the microcomputer market. They were later purchased by Xerox, and the brand name was eventually shut down in the mid-1980s.

Alan Shugart was an IBM manager destined for great things in 1969 when he was transferred from IBM's San Jose disk research center to IBM headquarters in Harrison, NY[?] and promoted to director of engineering. Within two weeks he quit, and was hired within a few days by Memorex[?] where he could remain in California.

As many as 200 IBM engineers decided to follow Shugart to his new post, where they went on to develop the 800kb 8-inch floppy disk in 1971. After a few years at Memorex, Shugart decided to strike out on his own, and in 1972 he gathered up some venture capital and started Shugart Associates with Finis Conner. After two years the seed money was gone and they had no product to show for it. Official company documents state that Shugart quit, but he tells the story another way, that he was fired. Shugart went on to found Seagate Technology[?] in 1979.

In 1976, Jim Adkisson, a Shugart engineer, sat down for lunch with a customer who complained that the 8-inch drive was too big for the personal computers then emerging in the nascent S-100 market. When Adkisson asked what the size should be, the customer pointed to a napkin on the table and said, "About that size." Adkisson returned to the Shugart lab with the napkin and designed the 5.25-inch minifloppy drive, introduced in 1976 as the 110kb SA-400. The SA-400 and related models became their best selling products, with shipments of up to 4000 drives per day. The company turned to Matsushita in Japan to make the drives, starting that company on its way to becoming the largest floppy drive manufacturer in the world.

In 1979 they introduced SASI, which later became SCSI. The company was later purchased by Xerox and was closed down in the mid-1980s (Xerox was selling relabelled Panasonic floppy drives as Shugarts for a while).

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