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MS013: Jacob J. Hagopian Papers

Identifier: MS013

Scope and Contents

The collection is primarily a record of Jacob Hagopian’s professional work at IBM from 1958 to 1984, but materials range from 1935 to 1998. There is also information from his jobs before IBM and some materials from his time at WPI, including his Master’s thesis. The largest part of the collection is Hagopian’s invention disclosures and related information, including many of his patents. There are two of his IBM notebooks, and other research materials and publications. He was involved in patent disputes, particularly related to his inventions of the gliding head and Advanced Disk File, and the collection includes documents related to these. At the end of the collection are many project photographs and some personal photographs. Also included are the many awards he received and his own accounts of work at IBM.


  • 1917-1998

Biographical / Historical

Jacob J. Hagopian was born in 1917 in Whitinsville, MA. He graduated from WPI in 1939 and received a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from WPI in 1940. During World War II he worked for the U.S. Army Signal Corps and then as an instructor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Naval Radar Training School. In 1946 he moved to Los Angeles to work for Northrop Aircraft.

In 1952 Hagopian became a technical engineer in the San Jose IBM Laboratory, and he remained there for the rest of his career, retiring in 1984. Soon after joining IBM he became the first magnetic recording consultant for the staff. He brought from his previous jobs expertise in use of magnetic tape to store or retrieve air control signals.

Hagopian was issued 24 U.S. patents, and published an additional 24 inventions in IBM’s technical disclosure bulletins. In 1954, Hagopian developed the flying (gliding) head for magnetic disks, which allowed multiple flying heads to scan many disk surfaces simultaneously. He also developed a spin-coating method to uniformly apply a magnetic coating to the disks. In succeeding years, he made major contributions to Random Access Disk File technology. He was also instrumental in the development of magnetic strips on credit cards.

Jacob Hagopian died in 1998, leaving his wife of 56 years and five children.


99 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Related Materials

Objects stored separately

2005.01 16 mm film of gliding head, IBM Research San Jose, 1954 2005.02 VHS Video of gliding head demonstration

In Progress
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the WPI Manuscript Collections Repository

100 Institute Rd
George C. Gordon Library
Worcester MA 01609 USA