Blog Post

Goodbye Al

All you crazy iPod lovers, TiVo maniacs and BitTorrent freaks – take a minute, just a minute and observe a minute of silence and thank Al Shugart, the grand daddy of the disk drive industry. A colorful man with passion for Hawaiian shirts, loud banter and a genuine desire to cause a rumble passed away earlier this week.

As a beat reporter from back in the day, I would remember him fondly, for he was good for a quote, and quick with a word of wisdom. Mike Cassidy has the best obituary, and he sums up a lot of my emotions, and memories. He is the man who helped build the 305 RAMAC for IBM, and also started a little company called Seagate Technologies.

Al was a CEO from a different era in Silicon Valley, times when colorful characters roamed the still unclogged freeways. He was a star, who got fired from his own company. I bet somewhere up there, Al is urging us all to have a drink. I will, Al, in the memory of your brutal honesty and giving a young rookie reporter time of the day.

Till we meet again!

3 Responses to “Goodbye Al”

  1. What I remember most about Shugart –

    1 – he brought massive employment and wealth to silicon valley. in its day, the HDD industry contributed as much wealth to the area as the chip industry from which SV gets its name.
    2 – showed how the US could compete with Japan when they showed up with superior workmanship and reliability (Fujitsu Eagles). proved SV could compete on low price and innovation via local design and cheap mfg outsourcing (then still an unkown idea).
    3 – proved that successful business could accomodate individual idiosyncracy, even in a world of business suits and ties.
    4 – taught entrepreneurs how to come back from getting fired, betting on the wrong market, hiring the wrong people, failing.
    5 – Showed us all it’s about the love of the game, undaunted optimism, and the endless possibilities of people of all kinds (nationalities, races, sexes, circumstances of birth, wealth, refinement)

    Al, thanks for enabling an industry that kept me in salary for over 20 years. I hope we can meetup in the afterlife. I’ll buy you that beer I owe you.

  2. Om,
    I read your post and the other post that you provided the link to. You are right we forget the Grand Daddy who helped build the technology for us to work on.
    I did not work for him but do have the world of respect for Al and people like him. Sometimes we should look back and see and most importantly learn from these visionaries. Some are mavericks and Al certainly was on the top of the list.
    Hats off Al. May his soul rest in peace.