William A. Goddard
(July 10, 1913—September 29, 1997)
(Photo credit: Courtesy of IBM Corporate Archives)
William Goddard and John Lynott, together with Louis Stevens and
a team of engineers, invented a unique magnetic disk storage at
the IBM Laboratory in San Jose in the 1950s. Able to store five
million characters of information and retrieve any record in
less than one second, the magnetic disk
drive represented a technological leap forward in rapid access
to mass data storage.
The magnetic disk drive consisted of a stack of closely spaced,
magnetically-coated disks mounted on a rotating shaft, with
read-write heads which did not physically touch the storage surface.
Goddard and Lynott’s key contribution was the air-bearing head, which
“floated” very close to the rotating disks without actually touching,
greatly increased the speed of access.
The invention validated IBM lab director Reynold Johnson’s vision that disk storage could be
made practical, marked a revolution in computer architecture,
performance, and applications, and gave birth to a new industry.
While disks have become smaller and faster,
today’s technology still is based on a rotating disk stack with moving heads.
By 2004, disk drive sales were approximately $22 billion worldwide.
Goddard was born in St. Joseph, Missouri. After earning his degree from Occidental College,
he spent time working for North American Aviation, Inc.
before establishing his career at the IBM Corporation.
Leroy E. Hood
John Joseph Lynott