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Jack Harker

by Hu Yoshida on Mar 6, 2007

Thanks to John Harker, I was able to meet Jack Harker, one of the major contributors to the development of magnetic disk storage. John Harker works at HDS as a Product Marketing Manager for storage management software. His father, Jack Harker was a member of the original IBM engineering team that developed the first magnetic disk storage system, the IBM 305 RAMAC, Random Access Memory Accounting Computer. This storage system was first announced in September of 1956 and began shipment in June of 1957, with a total capacity of 5 Million characters. Some of Jack’s major contributions were the air bearing slider and the Head Disk Assembly. Jack was the San Jose IBM Lab Director when I joined IBM, and it was a great honor for me to be able to meet him in person after so many years.

John had invited his dad to visit us in Santa Clara to take a tour of our product lab and have lunch with some of the ex IBMers, like Claus Mikkelsen and I, who used to work in his lab.

I asked Jack if he ever envisioned that the disk technology that he helped develop so many years ago would still be the primary data storage device some 50 years later. He said that during his career in IBM he worked on a lot of new storage technologies, including, random access tape cartridges, optical digital devices, floppy disks, bubble memory, and solid state disks, but none of them could keep up with the pace of development of magnetic disk storage.

We asked him what were the major key developments in disk storage, While he acknowledged innovations, like the air bearing slider, head disk assembly, thin film heads, and thin film disks, he said it was just a series of incremental improvements that came out of collaboration by many people. He said it was exciting to work in the San Jose lab. With a gleam in his eye, he said he looked forward to going to work each day to see what new ideas were being developed. He feels very fortunate to have had a career in the storage industry.

I first heard about magnetic disk storage when I interviewed for a job at IBM after I was discharged from the Marine Corps. The interviewer asked me about something called DASD. All I knew about storage at that time were punched cards, microfilm, and magnetic tape. I joined IBM and quickly learned about magnetic disk systems. Ever since then, while I have switched employers; I have always been associated with storage, and I could understand some of Jack’s excitement. This is a fascinating business, and I look forward to each new day.

We could have spent the rest of the afternoon talking with Jack, but some of us had to go back to work on today’s challenges. As we went to the door, Jack shook our hands, and then he turned to his son and embraced him warmly. This was Jack Harker, the engineer, the inventor, the industry legend, and most important of all, Jack Harker the father

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Comments (4 )

[...] Hu Yoshida, CTO of Hitachi Data Systems, invited Jeremiah Owyang (web-strategist.com) to capture an historic lunch with Jack Harker, one of the innovators of Data Storage, accompanied by his son John Harker. Claus Mikkelsen and Eric Tibbard also join in. Yoshida shared his thoughts (and pictures from his blog). [...]

[...] Hu invited me to swing by the HDS Headquarters in Santa Clara to be introduced to Jack Harker one of the innovators of the data storage industry, who pioneered many of the achievements at IBM. Claus, Eric Hibbard, and Jack’s son, John were also present. I’m always appreciative meeting some of the more experienced IT folks who share their wisdom crafting out their industry with the likes of a young inexperienced guy like me. Hu Yoshida has already blogged about the historic meeting, including vivid pictures. [...]

John McArthur on 22 Mar 2007 at 8:50 pm

Hu,

Thanks for bringing us this bit of history and putting a human face on 51 years of achievements.

John

[...] Hu Yoshida, CTO of Hitachi Data Systems, invited Jeremiah Owyang (web-strategist.com) to capture an historic lunch with Jack Harker, one of the innovators of Data Storage, accompanied by his son John Harker. Claus Mikkelsen and Eric Tibbard also join in. Yoshida shared his thoughts (and pictures from his blog). [...]

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