Home Computer Peripherals Western Digital Corp. Western Digital Corp. – History

Western Digital Corp. – History


Western Digital was founded in 1970 to manufacture specialized semiconductors and electronic calculators.

The company filed for bankruptcy in 1976. The company began designing and manufacturing hard drives in 1988. As a result of the US economy slowing down in 1991, the disk drive industry faced a price war, and once again, Western Digital was on the brink of bankruptcy. To raise cash, the company sold off its departmental network business to Standard Microsystems.

The personal computer market started to recover by 1992, and the company achieved a breakthrough with the introduction of a line of disc drives with a unity of parts. It also sold its wafer factory to Motorola. The company sold off its microcomputer products group, which made proprietary semiconductors, in 1994.Two years later, the company publicly showcased its first line of hard drives for the corporate network computer market.

The company acquired Crag Technologies, a California based company, in 1999. Western Digital disposed its disk media business (a producer of the magnetically coated disks that store data in hard drives), to longtime supplier, Komag, in 1999.

The company announced its decision to exit the market for hard drives manufactured for enterprise computer systems and closed its Rochester, Minnesota enterprise hard drive design center, in 2000. In the same year, Western Digital, through its SageTree subsidiary, entered the business intelligence market.

The company opened a new customer service center in Brazil during 2002. The company completed the acquisition of almost all of the assets of Read-Rite in 2003. It also exercised the option to acquire Read-Rite’s operations in Thailand, that same year.

Western Digital, in 2004, established a service center operation in Russia to support its distribution partners and expedite service to customers located in Russia. In the same year, the company established a network of service centers in India to provide faster service to customers in that country. The company further expanded its presence in Asia-Pacific by establishing a representative office in Beijing in 2004.

Western Digital, in 2005, announced its plans to enter the market for miniature hard drives with a family of 1-inch drives that enable a variety of handheld consumer devices. In the same year, Western Digital increased the capacity of its enterprise-class WD Caviar RE hard drives by nearly 30%, providing a cost effective solution for dependable, high capacity enterprise storage. Western Digital completed the purchase of the Fremont, California facility in April 2006, in which it had been fabricating semiconductor wafers for the production of hard drive recording heads since 2003.

In April 2007, the company launched WD AV drives, new family of hard drives for audio and video recording products in capacities ranging from 80 GB to 500 GB. Two months later, Western Digital and Komag entered a definitive agreement for acquisition of Komag by Western Digital.

Komag is a manufacturer and media provider to the hard drives. In July 2007, the company launched environmentally friendly GreenPower family of WD desktop, enterprise, consumer electronics and external hard drive products. In October 2007, Western Digital signed a multi-year lease for its planned hard drive design center in Longmont, Colorado.

In January 2008, Western Digital launched a new section of its corporate Web site detailing its ongoing global citizenship practices. The site provides the company’s broad network of customers, partners, local communities and shareholders a comprehensive understanding of the company’s commitment to growing its business and operations in a sustainable way, protecting the environment, engaging its workforce and investing in the communities where it operates.

In March 2008, Western Digital announced that the majority of its media and substrate supply obligations to external customers related to its acquisition of Komag in 2007 would be fulfilled by May 2008, and consequently the company would streamline its media and substrate operations to serve only its hard drive business.

In the following month, Western Digital authorized a $500 million increase in its common stock repurchase program. In the same month, the company started shipping WD VelociRaptor hard drives, the next generation of its 10,000 RPM SATA “Raptor” series of drives. In May 2008, the company introduced new Mac-formatted My Passport Studio Portable Drives.