SyQuest Technology, Inc., later known as SYQT, Inc., was an early entrant into the removable hard disk market for personal computers. The company was started in 1982 by Syed Iftikar who previously worked at Seagate.; it was named partially after the founder because of a company meeting wherein it was decided that "SyQuest" ought to be a shortened name for "Sy's Quest". Its earliest products were 3.9" (100mm) removable hard drives, and 3.9" (100mm) ruggedized hard drives for IBM XT compatibles and military applications. Some of their early fixed drives appear to have been rebranded Seagate drives, especially when one compares the drive lists on this data recovery site with this product table.
For many years SyQuest was the most popular means of transferring large desktop publisher documents to printers. SyQuest marketed their products as able to give personal computer users "endless" hard drive space for data-intensive applications like desktop publishing, Internet information management, pre-press, multimedia, audio, video, digital photography, fast backup, data exchange and archiving, along with confidential data security and easy portability for the road.
After 1997 SyQuest did not fare well in the market. Their core desktop publishing customers began increasingly to use CD-R media and FTP to transfer files, while Iomega's Zip drives dominated the small office/home office (SOHO) market. Over the period 1995 to 1997 sales declined, resulting in a series of losses. In the first quarter of 1997 those losses had been reduced to $6.8 million with net revenues increasing to $48.3 million. This compares to a net loss of $33.8 million, or $2.98 per share, on net revenues of $78.7 million for the same period the year before.
SyQuest filed for bankruptcy in late 1998, and portions of the company were subsequently purchased by Iomega Corp. in January, 1999. SyQuest retained the rights to sell their remaining inventory, on condition of renaming themselves SYQT in order to continue operations. For several subsequent years, a Web site at www.SYQT.com sold disk drives and media, and provided software downloads in support of those products. As of January 22, 2009, that Web site ceased to exist.
A significant reason for the losses was due to quality issues with a series of products, including the SparQ Drive and SyJet drives, that caused a large number of the drives to malfunction within just a few months of initial operation. Many users were frustrated at the lack of backwards compatibility as disk capacity increased. The life expectancy of a SyQuest disk was uncertain, as high usage could sometimes contribute to failure. The relative ease of use and inexpensive media of Iomega's Zip disks led to SyQuest's quick demise by the end of the 1990s.
Syquest's product line included such devices as the following: (The 5.25" removable cartridge drives with 44MB, 88MB, and 200MB capacities were mostly used on Macintosh systems via the SCSI interface.)
- SQ306RD drive/SQ100 cartridge. 5mb using MFM encoding.
- SQ312RD drive/SQ200 cartridge (SyQuest used the SQ200 model number again for a desktop drive in 1994). 10mb using MFM encoding.
- SQ319RD drive/SQ300 cartridge. 15mb using RLL encoding (10mb using MFM encoding).
- SQ325F fixed drive. 25MB using MFM encoding. Specs: 612 cylinders, 4 heads, no WPC, no RWC, fastest step rate.
- SQ338F fixed drive. 38MB. Supported MFM or RLL encoding. Specs: 615 cylinders, 6 heads, no WPC, no RWC, fastest step rate.
- SQ2542 drive/cartridge - 42MB 2.5" The Iota series.
- SQ555 drive/SQ400 cartridge - 44MB 5.25". internal SCSI. Also used in the Atari Megafile 44 (Review in Atari Start Magazine March 1990) and sold as part of the E-mu Systems RM45 - Removable Media Storage System.
- SQ5110 drive/SQ800 cartridge - 88MB 5.25". internal SCSI. Compatible with SQ400 Cartridge.
- SQ5200C drive/SQ2000 cartridge - 200MB 5.25" internal SCSI. The external desktop version of the SQ5200C was named SQ200, not to be confused with the earlier model SQ200 44MB cartridges. Compatible with SQ400 and SQ800 Cartridges.
- SQ3105 drive/SQ310 cartridge - 105MB.
- SQ3270 drive/SQ327 cartridge - 270MB. Compatible with SQ310 cartridge.
- EZ135 aka EZDrive 135/EZ135 cartridge - 135MB 3.5" removable cartridge drive. Competitor to Iomega's Zip drive. This was available in SCSI, IDE and parallel port versions.
- EZFlyer aka EZFlyer 230 drive/EZ230 cartridge - 230MB 3.5" removable cartridge drive. EZ135 compatible. Positioned as an upgrade to the EZ135.
- SyJet drive/SQ1500 cartridge - 1.5GB removable cartridge drive. Competitor to Iomega's Jaz drive).
- SparQ drive/SparQ cartridge - 1.0GB 3.5" removable cartridge drive. Lower cost per MB than the SyJet.
- Quest drive/Quest disc - a 4.7GB removable hard drive. PC Magazine definition. Available for a short time 1998.
- Interview Syed Iftikar (SyQuest member)
- Oral History of Syed Iftikar