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Icons of Progress


The First Magnetic Hard Disk

The talented engineers who created RAMAC have been widely honored for their groundbreaking technological achievements.

  • Reynold “Rey” Johnson 

    Reynold Johnson
    “It is the responsibility of every engineer to be conversant with all other projects going on in the laboratory.”

    Rey Johnson was born and raised in Minnesota. He received a bachelor of science degree in (science) education administration from the University of Minnesota in 1929. While a science teacher at a high school in Michigan, Johnson invented a machine that automated the grading of pencil-marked, multiple-choice tests. Johnson took the invention to IBM, and in 1934 he was hired by the company to work in its Endicott, New York research labs. His focus was on reading and writing punched card data. With this background, IBM sent Johnson to San Jose in 1952 to lead a new research lab focused on new ways to store and manage data. Johnson and his team spearheaded the research that led to the 305 RAMAC. Johnson built a team of sales people, scientists and engineers with a range of expertise. That team, focused not just on their jobs but on everything going on in the lab to ensure that no opportunity for innovation was lost.

  • John J. Lynott 

    John Lynott

    John Lynott was born in Johnson City, New York, in 1921. After attending Syracuse University, he joined IBM, where he was a lead engineer on the RAMAC project. He earned 25 patents over a 27-year career with IBM—including the patent for the “Data Storage Machine” that was the RAMAC disk drive, which he shares with his San Jose colleagues William Goddard and Louis Stevens. Lynott was honored as an inductee into the US-based National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2007.

  • William A. Goddard 

    William Goddard

    William Goddard was born in St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1913, and earned his degree from Occidental College. Before joining IBM as an engineer, Goddard worked on wind tunnel innovations for the aerospace industry—work that brought him to IBM but that was subsequently dropped. A lead engineer on the RAMAC project—he, John Lynott and Lou Stevens share the patent—Goddard was inducted into the US-based National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2007.

  • Al Hoagland 

    Al Hoagland earned his bachelor of science, master of science and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. Hoagland began his 28-year career at IBM in 1953, when he joined the San Jose lab to work on the magnetic read/write head for RAMAC. He took early retirement from IBM to join Santa Clara University, where he founded the Institute for Information Storage Technology. Hoagland went on to become one of the leading innovators in magnetic storage, receiving numerous awards and authoring the book Digital Magnetic Recording.

  • Louis “Lou” Stevens 

    Louis “Lou” Stevens

    A native of Post, Texas, Louis Stevens earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Texas Tech University in 1948. After going on to earn his master’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley, Stevens worked a brief stint at IBM in Poughkeepsie before transferring to the new IBM research lab in San Jose in 1952. There, he served as a senior engineer on the RAMAC initiative, and together with John Lynott and William Goddard holds US patent 3,134, 097 for the “Data Storage Machine.” Goddard spent the majority of his career at the San Jose lab, retiring in 1984. In 2008, Stevens was inducted into the US-based National Inventors Hall of Fame for his contributions to technological advances.