SyQuest Technology, Inc. NASDAQ: SYQT was an early entrant into the hard disk drive market for personal computers. The company was started in 1982 by Syed Iftikar who previously worked at Seagate. Its earliest products were the SQ306R, a 5MB 3.9" (100mm) cartridge disk drive and associated Q-Pak cartridge for IBM XT compatibles and military applications. Subsequently a non-removable medium version was announced, the SQ306F.
For many years SyQuest was the most popular means of transferring large desktop publisher documents such as advertisements to professional 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.
The Company 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 product family of 3.9" (100mm) cartridge disk drives and associated Q-Pak cartridges achieved limited success in government markets where removable media were required for security purposes.
In 1986 SyQuest announced the SQ555 and its SQ400 associated cartridge, a 44 MB 5¼-inch removable cartridge hard disk drive, using the industry standard 130 mm disk as its medium. Double capacity versions, the SQ5110 and SQ800 were introduced in 1991. This generation of products became the de facto standard in the Apple Macintosh world to store, transfer and backup large amounts of data such as generated by graphic artists, musicians and engineers.
SyQuest went public on the NASDAQ in 1991.
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.
Syquest's product line included such devices as the following: (The 5.25" removable-disk hard drives with 44MB, 88MB, and 200MB capacities were mostly used on Macintosh systems via the SCSI interface.)
- SQ306RD drive/SQ100 disk. 5mb using MFM encoding.
- SQ312RD drive/SQ200 disk (SyQuest used the SQ200 model number again for a desktop drive in 1994). 10mb using MFM encoding.
- SQ319RD drive/SQ300 disk. 15mb using RLL encoding (10mb using MFM encoding).
- SQ325F fixed-disk hard drive. 25MB using MFM encoding. Specs: 612 cylinders, 4 heads, no WPC, no RWC, fastest step rate.
- SQ338F fixed-disk hard drive. 38MB. Supports MFM or RLL encoding. Specs: 615 cylinders, 6 heads, no WPC, no RWC, fastest step rate.
- SQ2542 drive/disk - 42MB 2.5" The Iota series.
- SQ555 drive/SQ400 disk - 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 disk - 88MB 5.25". internal SCSI. Compatible with SQ400 disk.
- SQ5200C drive/SQ2000 disk - 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 disks. Compatible with SQ400 and SQ800 disks.
- SQ3105 drive/SQ310 disk - 105MB.
- SQ3270 drive/SQ327 disk - 270MB. Compatible with SQ310 disk.
- EZ135 aka EZDrive 135/EZ135 disk - 135MB 3.5" removable-disk hard drive. Competitor to Iomega's Zip drive. This was available in SCSI, IDE and parallel port versions.
- EZFlyer aka EZFlyer 230 drive/EZ230 disk - 230MB 3.5" removable-disk hard drive. EZ135 compatible. Positioned as an upgrade to the EZ135.
- SyJet drive/SQ1500 disk - 1.5GB removable-disk hard drive. Competitor to Iomega's Jaz drive).
- SparQ drive/SparQ disk - 1.0GB 3.5" removable-disk hard drive. Lower cost per MB than the SyJet.
- Quest drive/Quest disc - a 4.7GB removable-disk hard drive. PC Magazine definition. Available for a short time 1998.
- "Sy's quest". Forbes. 9 December 1997. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
- Roman, Andrew (June 1982). "3.9-in. Winchester features removable media". Mini Micro Systems: 239–244.
- Electronic News: 16. June 23, 1986.
- "To out stockholders". SyQuest Technology 1991 Annual Report: 2. March 13, 1992.
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- This article is based on material taken from the Free On-line Dictionary of Computing prior to 1 November 2008 and incorporated under the "relicensing" terms of the GFDL, version 1.3 or later.
- Interview Syed Iftikar (SyQuest member)
- Oral History of Syed Iftikar