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It's set during the rise of Seagate Technology, today's leading computer hard disc maker. I

It’s also about Caltech when Linus Pauling and Richard Feynman were professors; about global nuclear winter risk from a forgotten missile fleet; and finding God through the scientific method.

Book excerpts and ordering at Amazon.com/Hard-Drive-As-Disc-Turns/dp/1419634615

(Or search Amazon for “Hard Drive Gordon Hughes”). 

More information at http://cmrr.ucsd.edu/hughes.

Craziness was commonplace in early Seagate for the company to survive, which its people called a “cowboy company.” This would be impossible to capture in a simple documentary, so this is a fictional novel of craziness, excitement, and tears as Seagate first thrived with its first invention of hard drives for PCs, nearly died, survived and finally arrived dominant in hard drives.

It’s the story of the Seagate founders and it's my adventure of a lifetime in research and engineering as a magnetics researcher turned design engineer, participating in the half-century of disk drive progress led by colorful and intriguing pioneers that took drives from a dream of Ada, Countess of Lovelace in Victorian England, to today’s drives that hold the world's information and empower the Internet.

My book touches on little known Silicon Valley startup company realities: the engineering “alligators” that arise in product manufacturing; the Silicon valley business competition model of simultaneous product design, sales and revenue; U.S. patent system problems in commodity electronics; frivolous lawsuits; and U.S. tax policies that encourage employers to send their manufacturing jobs offshore, barely hinted at by leaders like Alan Greenspan.

Copyright © 2007 Gordon Hughes ISBN: 1-4196-3461-5, ISBN-13: 978-1419634611 Library of Congress Control Number: 2006903148

Sample book chapter:

15 Minutes of Fame Edit

"Well, Andy Warhol said everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. I think I may have already had my fame accidentally with Alluvial O. Fansome."

"Who or what is Alluvial O. Fansome?" Camille asked.

"He was born a half-century ago when I was a student at Caltech. I wanted to mail away for a Rosicrucian booklet called Mastery of Life that I saw in an advertisement in Popular Mechanics magazine. The ad said I would learn secrets of the ancient Templar Crusader Knights, the Holy Grail, and Freemasonry. I didn¿t want to use my real name because my classmates would laugh at me when they saw the Rosicrucian booklet in my mailbox. An alluvial fan is an Earth feature I had just learned about in geology class.

"Alluvial is famous at Caltech today, fifty years later. He has a wife, a driver's license, gets junk mail, and has a web site at MySpace."

Camille decided to ignore this claim to fame. "I'm running for the council on an 'unlimited water' platform so new businesses can be started in Scotts Valley."

"How can that work, since Scotts Valley is entirely dependent on well water and the ground water levels have been dropping for years? That's why the city banned new businesses."

"A professor at Santa Clara University told me that water from the Sierra Nevada snow pack comes to Scotts Valley through an underground aquifer. The locals here don't know about that."

"Sierra mountain runoff water does flow into the California Central Valley, but then it would have to flow uphill over the Temblor Range on the west side of the valley, then down into the Santa Clara Valley, and finally uphill again over the Santa Cruz mountains to Scotts Valley." As he said this it was dawning on him that if he didn¿t shut up this dazzling lady would leave.

"That's hundreds of miles for the water to travel, and might seem unlikely except for another discovery at Santa Clara University," he quickly added. "On their campus near the Faculty Club is a monument for the first airplane flight."

"You mean by the Wright brothers?" she asked.

"No, I mean by John J. Montgomery, who flew a glider across that whole distance from the Sierra Nevada to Santa Clara. And if someone could glide that far over those mountains without an engine, water should be able to go that far too," Gordon whitely lied. By then, he had collected some of his wits and wasn¿t about to tell her that Montgomery had actually only bailed out in a hang glider from a hot air balloon floating over Santa Clara University, and his determined but inaccurate wife had put up the monument after his death.

Camille paused, thought for a few seconds, and finally nodded. "Please let me ask you another question. As a scientist," she said hesitatingly, "may I ask if you believe in God?"

“I’m a very ordinary engineer and scientist,” he slowly replied, “but I happen to be excellent at applying the scientific method. I’m able to disregard the assumptions that people are taught from birth, as the scientific method requires on a question like you’re asking.

“My answer to you is that I don’t fight the truth. God is as real and present here and now, as the sky above and the Earth below.”

This seemed to surprise her, and she again hesitated. “But if God is here, how can He allow evil, murder, and death?”

Gordon pondered how to answer truthfully and it occurred to him to use a parable. He smiled, remembering that Jesus often spoke in parables in the Bible.

“Imagine a mother watching her small children playing outside in her yard. She’s working in her kitchen and keeping her eye on them through a window. They’re playing Cops and Robbers.

“‘Bang! Bang!’ shouts her son. Her daughter holds her hands to her chest, falls down on the lawn, and lies still. The mother smiles, knowing her daughter will soon rise up again and be well.”

“Camille, think and see: there is no death. He saw recognition begin to come into her eyes.

---From "Hard Drive!"


Gordon has a PhD from Cal Tech and was made an IEEE Fellow for his part in developing the Grenex cobalt disc as described in the book.

Chapter Titles: 1. Meeting Seagate 2. Computers in Victorian England 3. A Scientist Gets Religion 4. Pauling and Feynman: Charismatic Cal Tech Professors 5. Keeping Nuclear Missiles Deadly 6. An Electronics Manufacturing Nightmare 7. If You Fail at Manufacturing, Lose More Money Doing Research 8. Detested Technologists Overrun Las Vegas 9. Let’s Get Married! 10. Starting at Seagate 11. A Common Sense Radio 12. House Hunting in the Countryside 13. A Silicon Valley Startup Company 14. Grenex Advanced Cobalt Discs 15. Industrial Espionage at Malone’s Bar 16. Bike Crash at the Tree Circus 17. If You Build a Better Mousetrap the World Will Imitate It 18. Local Politics Wins in Small Rural Towns 19. Space Wars 20. To Drain a Swamp, First Fight off its Alligators 21. Trading Old Technology Secrets for New 22. Disasters are Business as Usual 23. Opera and Bugs Bunny in the Morning 24. Real Estate Wars 25. There Are Free Meals 26. Disc Drive Research Universities 27. It's the Taxes, Stupid 28. A Two Airplane Family 29. Stamping Springs 30. Factory Failures Help New Product Design 31. The Seagate Way 32. Genetic DNA Recording Discs 33. Victory in the Real Estate War 34. Mega-bricks and the CIA Lady 35. Finis Invents Another Smaller Disc Drive 36. Tiny Bumps and Tuning Forks 37. When the CEO Names Your Cat 38. Buying an Airplane to get its Parking Space 39. Business Booms are Followed by Busts 40. Seagate Women 41. Eclipse over Mexico! 42. Seeing Red Dots 43. If You Can’t Sell Drives, Sue 44. Kermit’s Poison Mushrooms 45. Grenex’s “Million Dollar Disc” –NOT! 46. Candy-Ass Towns 47. Disc Drives and Toy Trains 48. Inventor of the Integrated Circuit and Advisor to the British Crown 49. Up the Colorado River and into the Grand Canyon 50. To Ancient China and Minneapolis 51. Earthquake! 52. Communist Disc Drives 53. Success Means Change 54. Diversifying the Storage Business 55. Epilogue

Gfhughes 21:24, 23 May 2008 (UTC)gfhughes

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