Competition within the hard disk industry has been fierce over the last quarter of a century, which has seen almost all of the 200 plus hard drive manufacturers disappear. Many have gone bankrupt while a large number have been the subject of mergers and acquisitions.
There are currently, in 2016 just three separate hard disk drive manufacturers, Seagate Technology PLC, Toshiba and Western Digital. There are three brand names also in use as subsidiary companies of these, Maxtor, Samsung and HGST Inc. We still occasionally see drives which were manufactured by IBM and Fujitsu, both of whom sold their hard disk drive manufacturing technology to other companies. It is rare to find drives by another manufacturers arriving for data recovery, which are usually only now seen in computer or machine used for a dedicated task such as a computer controller metal cutter.
Seagate Technology PLC
Originally founded as Shugart Technology in 1978 they were forced to change the name to Seagate Technology PLC in order to avoid a lawsuit. Seagate are an American hard disk drive storage manufacturer, whose main operational headquarters are based in Cupertino, California, USA although they are now incorporated in Dublin, Ireland. The first 5.25” hard disk drive, the 5MB ST-506 was developed by 1980 using the same form factor as that used by Shugart Associates for their 5.25” floppy disk drives. With the introduction of the IBM XT there was a large demand for these hard disk drives, which saw the technology improve rapidly.
Most of the recent growth for Seagate has come from acquiring two of their competitors, Maxtor in 2006 and Samsung’s hard disk drive business in 2011, allowing them to increase their share of drive sales across each sector of the storage market.
Maxtor, an American hard disk drive manufacturer, was founded in 1982. Maxtor’s main focus in the hard disk drive market was concentrating on increasing disk capacity rather than speed, for drives used in the desktop and server markets. Since being acquired by Seagate Technology PLC in 2006, they now operate as a subsidiary of Seagate, mainly concentrating on external USB hard disk enclosures.
Fujitsu Ltd were one of the leaders in research and development of hard disk drive recording technology, introducing both MR and PRML recording methods for storing data on the platters. Their technology covered all market areas from laptop drives through to the enterprise sector. In 2009 Fujitsu sold their hard disk drive business to Toshiba, ending their involvement in the market.
Toshiba are a multinational corporation developing and selling electronic equipment, based in Tokyo Japan. Their involvement in the hard disk drive business started when they acquired Fujitsu’s business, specialising in laptop drives. In late 2015 there were rumours that Toshiba were about to stop development of hard disk drives. However, in 2016 it was confirmed that Toshiba would continue to develop and market hard drives when they acquired the 3.5” HGST technology from Western Digital, allowing the expansion of their portfolio of drives across all sectors of the market.
Hitachi (HGST Inc.)
Hitachi Global Storage Technologies were founded in 2003 following the merger of the Hitachi and IBM hard disk drive manufacturing businesses, before later changing the name to HGST. In 2012 they were acquired by Western Digital acting as a subsidiary of Western Digital. In 2016 the 3.5” technology developed by HGST was transferred to Toshiba.
In 1988 Samsung entered the hard disk drive market, to expand their storage portfolio. Samsung are a South Korean multinational electronics corporation based in Samsung Town, Seoul. Samsung Electronics sold their hard disk drive manufacturing business to Seagate, allowing them to focus on developing their SSD technology.
International Business Machines Corporation (IBM)
IBM developed the first hard disk drives in 1956, beginning a long history in the computing industry, developing computer systems, peripherals and providing consultancy services. IBM are a large multinational corporation based in Armonk, New York. In 2002 IBM sold their hard disk drive business to Hitachi Global Storage Technologies as part of a merger with Hitachi.
Western Digital Corporation (WDC or WD)
In 2016 Western Digital are now regarded as the largest manufacturer of hard disk drives in the world across all sectors of the market from laptops, desktop, external and enterprise level data storage. This position in the market was achieved by acquiring HGST in 2012, now a subsidiary company. In 2016 the 3.5” technology obtained from HGST was transferred to Toshiba as part of a deal which ensure that all three major manufacturers will be competitive across every sector of the storage industry.