The Passing of an HDD Industry Luminary: Jim Porter

The HDD industry lost an exemplary human being and an industry fixture. Jim Porter, founder and president of DISK/TREND and a founding Board member of IDEMA, passed away March 2 at 81.

Jim was a multi-faceted man. He is perhaps best known as the founder and president of DISK/TREND, the market analysis firm that EVERY storage market forecaster has since emulated. DISK/TREND was founded in the late 1970s after Jim’s original company, Crown Zellerbach, took delivery of one of the original RAMAC units. Seeing the RAMAC was “love at first sight” and Jim soon after struck out on his own as a maverick forecaster. Few, if any, of today’s market analysis firms existed then. Jim blazed the trail for all of them with a disciplined publication that was for years the industry standard in market research. His firm was detail oriented, dependable, and the standard bearer.

He was also a founder Board Member of IDEMA, the International Disk Drive Equipment and Materials Association. Even though IDEMA was originally started as an association for suppliers to the HDD industry, Jim recognized the value of a healthy supply chain. He threw himself into building the group and establishing its relevance through his near two decade term on the Board. Over a 25 year period, Jim rarely missed an IDEMA Board meeting (even as an Emeritus member, he always came to offer sage advice), and was a source of great wisdom and insight.

Most importantly, he quite simply loved everything about the HDD industry, and anyone who met him quickly understood that. After retiring more than 10 years ago, Jim remained active with the Computer History Museum as well as with the Technology Showcase at IDEMA events. There was not another person alive who possessed both the knowledge as well as the passion for the history of the business. There were few, if any, meetings, conferences, or exhibitions relating to the HDD market that Jim didn’t make a point to attend. He usually occupied a seat in the front row of every event – he didn’t want to miss a thing.

Most importantly, Jim was unfailingly polite, gentlemanly, and generous. He loved wine, food, music, and culture. A born historian, Jim regaled countless individuals and parties with stories of bygone days. If he weren’t a business person, he would have been a raconteur - his ability to tell a story was legendary.

People often say “when I die, I want to be doing ……..” Well, Jim loved music, and he passed away while attending the Monterey Dixieland Jazz Festival. He will be greatly missed.

Jim Porter, RIP.

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