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Toshiba Will Market New High-Capacity Disk Drive : Computers: The one-gigabyte device will hold up to 500,000 single-spaced pages of text and be built at a new factory in San Jose that will employ 100.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Toshiba Corp. has developed a high-capacity computer disk drive and opened a new factory in San Jose to produce the devices.

Toshiba America Information Systems will hire up to 100 employees in San Jose this year to begin manufacturing the new 3 1/2-inch hard disk drive, designed and engineered at the company’s Irvine headquarters, said Kiichi Hataya, company president.

The disk drive can store one gigabyte of data, or about 500,000 single-spaced pages of text. That is more than 10 times the storage capacity of previous Toshiba disk drives.

Toshiba’s MK-430 series is designed for high-powered computer workstations used by engineers and for computer networks.

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The Japanese parent has been shifting more research, development and manufacturing operations from its headquarters in Tokyo to the Irvine division, Hataya said. The MD-430 is one of the first examples of that strategy.

The idea behind the strategy is that Toshiba subsidiaries can respond to market needs more effectively by designing and building products closer to the markets where they are sold.

U.S. manufacturers Seagate Technology, Micropolis, Maxtor and International Business Machines have also announced plans to ship disk drives with at least 1 gigabyte of storage.

Toshiba expects to begin shipping the MK-430 to customers in the fall, before some of its other competitors, Hataya said.

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A spokeswoman at Seagate said the Scotts Valley company also expects to begin shipping its 1-gigabyte drive in the fall.

Previously, Toshiba manufactured all its disk drives overseas, and the Irvine unit was responsible for sales, distribution and servicing. By adding engineering and manufacturing in San Jose, the Toshiba unit is showing that it can be a major force in the industry, said Crawford del Prete, an analyst at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass.

Toshiba began developing its newest disk drive in 1989, when Irvine officials persuaded the parent company that they could do a better job of developing the product.

The parent company allowed the project to proceed, in part, because U.S. companies have generally dominated the $1.8-billion market for high-capacity drives, said Frank Buckley, vice president of Toshiba America’s disk products division.

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"(U.S. firms) have done a much better job than the Japanese companies, and this move by Toshiba to build it in the United States is an acknowledgement of that,” said Bob Katzive, a vice president at Disk/Trend Inc., a Mountain View research company.

Toshiba plans an initial investment of $10 million in the San Jose plant, which could eventually employ 400 people. The parent company is investing $100 million in the worldwide disk drive business through 1994.


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