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PrairieTek was a hard drive manufacturer located in Longmont, Colorado in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It manufactured 5 and 10 megabyte "ruggedized" miniature hard drives for the laptop computer market. Unlike many manufacturers of the time, PrairieTek did not rest the drive heads on the disks, but instead used reverse EMF to park the drives on a spreader bar. While the concept promised to reduce the amount of wear on the drive heads and the disk, in practical application the heads came off the spreader bar too fast, and before the disk had come up to speed (creating an air cushion), which led to the heads impacting the disks and knocking loose magnetic media, shortening the life of the drive to months or weeks.
The company first went into the black in September 1990, at which point the original founder and his core group of engineers resigned to found another company, as was their standard operating procedure. Struggling to replace the executive team, the company hired on the disgraced former executives from Miniscribe, which immediately drove away all financiers from further investing in the company. The first round of layoffs started in February 1991 and the company ceased all production activity at the end of June 1991, after first locking out the employees. Employees were informed to proceed to a nearby movie theater, where they were given a short speech and handed their final paychecks, which they were told to cash immediately and not deposit into their accounts.
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