Prime Movers: Alan Shugart

This is a man who hates rules. “I prefer guidelines,” states the 70-year-old technology pioneer. Shugart led a team of IBM Corp. engineers in the development of the first floppy, an 8-inch, plastic coated disk that revolutionized the data storage market when it was introduced in 1971. The floppy disk, so named because it was bendable, allowed data to be easily transported from computer to computer for the first time and became the standard way to store and transport computer files and programs. The floppy, which stored 100K (or 100,000 characters) of data, was the precursor to today’s 3.5-inch disks, which store more than 10 times that amount.