Alan F. Shugart was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1930. He received a BS in engineering physics from the University of Redlands (1951).
In 1951, Shugart began his career at IBM as a field engineer, solving customer problems at their offices. He rose quickly through the organization as an effective leader who inspired great loyalty in team members. Over his 18-year career at IBM, Shugart contributed to or managed a number of difficult disk drive development programs, including the groundbreaking RAMAC-IBM's (and the world's) first disk drive.
Shugart left for Memorex in 1969. He stayed until 1972, then launched Shugart Associates, where he led efforts to perfect the eight-inch floppy disk drive as a mass-produced device. After a dispute over company direction with his board, Shugart left in 1974.
In 1979, he and Finis Conner founded Seagate Technology with the mission of producing hard disk drives for the new personal computer market. Their first commercial product was a 5 1/4", 5 MB hard disk drive that sold for $1,500 and became a major enabling technology for the PC industry. Within a decade, Seagate had become the world's largest producer of disk drives. Shugart passed away in 2006.