Silicon Minds: Don Massaro and the PC Revolution

April 23rd, 2012 |
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Silicon Minds: The legend goes that Don Massaro, President of Shugart Associates in the 1970s, drew the 5.25 inch dimension of the minifloppy diskette on a napkin at lunch. “That’s not quite true,” says Don Massaro. “If you go look at the Wikipedia entry and look at the 5.25 inch story, I’ve tried to fix it 14 times, but you know with Wikipedia somebody can always override what you’re doing.” What is true is Massaro and Shugart engineers knew the diskette had to be slightly too big to fit in a shirt pocket. “If you creased the disk and you’d lose the data. So that’s how we came up with that. It wasn’t magic. That was the minimum size.”

Because of the pressure from a customer to reduce the size of the 8″ floppy, Shugart’s 5.25″ minifloppy disc was launched and acted as one of the main catalysts behind the PC revolution. But Massaro not only had his hand in the disc drive business. When Shugart was purchased by Xerox he was put in charge of the initiative called “The Office of the Future” being driven by the technologies at PARC, the Palo Alto Research Center. “You could take this technology and see all the companies that branched off of it,” Massaro recalls. “I mean not only Apple in terms of Lisa and Macintosh and Microsoft with Windows, but Adobe and so forth. The list of companies that branched off it, using the technology out of PARC to create the marketplace we know was amazing.”

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