Times Staff and Wire Reports

4 Japan Firms to Research Hard-Disk Drives: Hoping to catch up with American rivals, Japan's four largest computer companies are forming a consortium to research and develop hard-disk drives and other storage devices used in computers. NEC, Toshiba Corp., Hitachi Ltd. and Fujitsu Ltd. are jointly spending $2.2 million to form the Storage Research Consortium. But the amount is far less than what is being spent by a U.S. group with the same purpose. Although Japanese companies are strong in certain PC components--monitors and memory chips, for example--U.S. companies hold most of the $19-billion worldwide hard-disk drive market. Quantum Corp. and Seagate Technology Inc. dominate. As sales of personal computers have boomed in recent years, so has demand for increasingly powerful devices to store the information inside of them. Japanese executives say the hard-disk market will grow to $23 billion by 1998.

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