The Path from Invention to Product for the Magnetic Thin Film Head

In the 1960s, engineers were producing paper designs and theoretical analyses for the smaller magnetic heads that were needed for high density disk storage systems, but there was no way to manufacture the proposed structures. This chapter describes the series of inventions by a small group at the IBM Research Center that led to a unique electrochemical fabrication process and to the invention of a thin film head that could be built with this process. While virtually all computer manufacturers were unsuccessfully trying to adapt silicon processing technology to head fabrication, the research group demonstrated a head built using electrochemical technology. The new technology was accepted by IBM’s development and manufacturing groups, and a production line to mass produce the thin film head was ultimately implemented through a joint effort with their research colleagues. The story of the thin film head provides insights into the path of an invention from a laboratory concept to a manufactured product.

By: Lubomyr T. Romankiw, Sol Krongelb

Published in: RC25491 in 2014


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