Artifact Details


Frank, Paul oral history

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Dr. Paul Frank was a leading pioneer in the development of head technologies at the largest independent head supplier, Applied Magnetics Corporation or AMC. His career began with ferrite and encompassed metal-in-gap, thin-film and magnetoresistive technologies. He was also one of the founders of the INformation Storage Industry Consortium, the leading technology research organization for both disk and tape recording.

Paul's early life was heavily influenced by his father who was the son of Volga German emigres to Washington state and his high school chemistry and physics teacher who later was a National Teacher of the year.

During the last year of his undergraduate university training he began part time work at Applied Magnetics Corporation, AMC, a company founded by his uncle. This connection strengthened and grew from the 1960's onward and while working there Paul completed his PhD.

At AMC he worked in the development group which saw the technology transition in heads from hand assembled ferrite to automated thin film-magnetoresistive heads. His career progressed from initially being a technical contributor in the late 1960's, to engineering manager in 1975, director of research and development in 1979 and vice president of research and development in 1982.

Paul was the primary technical face of AMC from the early 1980's until he left the company in 1998 to head up the National Storage Industry Consortium, NSIC. As such Paul represented AMC to customers, at technical conferences, and to the various industry technical and trade groups, as well as to academia. His deep technical knowledge and vision for the future of magnetic recording technology was thus very influential across the entire industry as well as at the various university research centers.

NSIC later INSIC (INformation Storage Industry Consortium) was an industry-university consortium that was the major world-wide influence on the direction and funding of advanced research and development in magnetic recording from its founding in 1991 until its demise in 2014.

During Paul's tenure at NSIC/INSIC he oversaw the coordination of 11 major programs on magnetic and optical recording research at 55 of the world-wide university partners funded by the 57 world-wide industry members. These programs included ever higher areal densities, perpendicular magnetic recording, shingled magnetic recording, two dimensional magnetic recording, heat assisted magnetic recording, microwave assisted magnetic recording and other advanced technologies for both disk and tape recording.

During his long career in the industry, Paul has known and worked with many of its luminaries. He recounts a number of interesting anecdotes about and memories of such well known figures as Al Shugart, Jean-Pierre Lazzari, Mark Kryder, Dennis Mee, Barry Schechtman, and Giora Tarnopolsky.

Paul’s vision for the future of computing and storage includes substantial development in artificial intelligence and autonomous computing; with many different opportunities and considerable development yet to be done. He sees cloud storage becoming ever more ubiquitous. One of the major challenges he identifies is data security.

Finally, his advice to young engineers and scientists is that if you get a job in technology, keep up to date with the technology and in general don’t be in a huge hurry; you’ve got 40 years to go.




Dennison, Ron, Interviewer
Frank, Paul, Interviewee


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Mountain View, CA




Oral history


magnetic recording; Magnetic heads; ferrite heads; MIG heads; magnetoresistive heads; NSIC

Collection Title

CHM Oral History Collection


Computer History Museum

Lot Number


Related Records

102740231 Frank, Paul oral history