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Manufacturer Announces Smallest Computer Disk Drive

September 3, 1991

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) _ A fledgling computer component manufacturer on Tuesday announced production of the industry’s smallest hard disk drive - a 1.8-inch device that is about the size of a pack of cigarettes.

Disk drives are data storage devices found in most personal and portable computers.

The new drive could vault Integral Peripherals Inc. into the forefront of suppliers for the industry’s newest category, the ″subnotebook″ computer, at a time when many computer-industry companies are struggling, analysts say.

″We chose the 1.8-inch form factor because we felt it would be the new- generation drive,″ said Steven B. Volk, Integral’s president and chief executive officer.

Integral already has shipped 10 of the new disks, which come in 20- and 40- megabyte capacities, to four Japanese companies for use in miniature computers that run on batteries, officials said. Full-scale production is expected to begin by the end of the year or early next year at Integral’s Singapore plant.

The drive consumes about 10 percent of the power used by a 2.5-inch drive, the smallest now in use. It also incorporates a patented technology that prevents the recording heads from contacting the disk surface to diminish wear and enhance reliability, Integral officials said.

International Data Corp., a high-tech research firm, has predicted the market for 1.8-inch drives will reach $1.9 billion by 1995. In addition to computers, the disk drives also should find their way into fax machines and laser printers, Integral said.

Analysts believe Integral is headed in the right direction.

″The good thing is they have sold the drive up front,″ said Alexa McCloughan of IDC. ″They have commitments for the product. It has applications, it has a home, financial commitments from customers.″

Integral is believed to be about six months ahead of other firms in producing a 1.8-inch drive. Conner Peripherals Inc., the leader in the 2.5- inch disk drive market, is believed to be closest to putting a product on the market.

Founded in September 1990, Integral won $6.3 million in initial funding from a number of sources, including Sumitomo Corp. of Japan, Sumitomo Corp. of America, Far East venture capital firms and company vendors.

The Boulder-based company also has lured a respected management team and engineers, including Volk, who helped found PrairieTek Corp.; Dean Personne, who oversaw Seagate Technology Inc.’s Singapore disk drive operations; and Mikio Kamimura, who founded Mitsui Comtek Corp. of California.

″It’s been a real push, considering we’ve really only had a full staff for six months,″ said James Morehouse, a founder and executive vice president for research and development. ″The main reason we’re able to go so fast is the level of our staff, their level of experience.″

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