- BS Electrical Engineering 1968
Townsend H. Porter received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Michigan Tech in 1968.
Porter spent 27 years at IBM and patented the mechanics inside of the 3-1/2-inch floppy disk that became the industry standard.
In 1978, IBM offered him an engineering management position in the magnetic components area, which was the beginning of his second career, in technology management. At IBM, he eventually became the director of disk file development and was responsible for two development facilities, in San Jose, Calif., and Rochester, Minn., managing approximately 160 people at each location.
He left IBM to become the vice president of engineering in the High Performance Storage Group of Western Digital Corporation, where he shared responsibility for marketing, finance and human resources.
In 1997, he joined Seagate Technology Corporation, the largest disk drive company in the world, which has annual revenues in excess of $10 billion. At Seagate, he was the chief technological officer and executive vice president of product development. He managed the $700 million annual R&D budget, developed and maintained the corporation’s long-term technology strategy and managed advanced-technology development as well as all product development. During his tenure at Seagate, he was responsible for the merging of the company’s six worldwide product design centers into three, the establishment of a 200-person Seagate Research Center dedicated to the development of advanced storage technologies and the establishment of a product platform strategy that reduced the product development costs dramatically and expanded the number of products designed and produced. Porter retired from Seagate in 2004.
While working as an engineer at IBM, he was responsible for approximately 20 inventions that culminated in the issuing of US patents and internal technical disclosures. These inventions include clocking and timing methods, tape and disk drive systems and FSK systems.
Porter and his wife have a family foundation that has helped build a children’s home in Tanzania, supported a teen group in Sarasota, Fla., and aided troubled kids in Boston.