From Creation to Integration
—Launched from Sendai—

Research’s Fusion into Society, which is Integration

I became a person concerned with innovation in magnetic recording and have experienced how science and technology have developed. In the gallery of the First Building of our campus is the exhibition of the first machine for mass production and the shield trophy which was given by four American and Japanese companies in memory of gratitude for the invention of vertical magnetic recording. The world’s biggest Seagate and Japanese mainstay companies switched to the vertical types simultaneously. Innovation is happening from Japan. We can say, “Research’s fusion into society, which is integration”. I feel deeply moved that my aim when young—moving the world with Japanese ideas—has been attained now. The reason why these four companies put the invention into practical use almost at the same time is that the No.144 Committee of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science arranged an environment where the latest information can always be shared. I didn’t obtain a patent except for the principle patent for the vertical magnetic recorder. I think this experience of mine will be useful for the educational scenes.

Vertical Magnetic Recorder

Now a big change is happening in hard disk drives (HDD) in the world. It is a productive change from horizontal magnetic recording to vertical magnetic recording. It is said that this change makes the cost lower and memory capacity increase by more than one digit.
When I announced the fundamental principle of my vertical magnetic recording in 1977, I had a great response. But in order to realize it, I had to specify various technical problems such as improvement of materials and magnetic heads and the decision of most appropriate systems. Before this vertical magnetic recording became “mature”, horizontal magnetic recording continued to improve to meet the HDD demands, resulting in that the interest in the world was diversified to it. About ten years after my announcement, few international theses were publicized. But since 2000 theses have increased again. There is a limit to the horizontal magnetic recording because of its nature, and it was widely felt. And again my vertical magnetic recording was paid attention to in the world. We call the period with little social interest “the Death Valley”. I changed it into “the Darwin’s Sea”.
“What is excellent in principle will necessarily be useful someday.”—that is—It is important to keep the environment where the technology can be completed. In order to do so, I hold academic conferences on vertical magnetic recording continuously with the fire of development burning. That is why it can be useful for the time it is necessary.
It took 30 years to put my principle into practical use. It is very important to make continuous development following discovery for realization of technology.

An attitude as a researcher and an idea for technical innovation

It is important for researchers to aim for practical science at first,” pursue the truth in line with facts” and think about what is useful to society. Archimedes, an ancient Greek researcher, pursued practical science and made a various contributions to the basic sciences. The saying on the plaque in my room (for chairperson of the board of directors) “the practical search for the truth” represents this.
Next, “think much of history or tradition” of the research. I made efforts following Mr. Nagai who had begun studying magnetic recording. At that time I went back to the starting point and researched again from the very base, resulting in good. Research after research will be a power to discover and create, won’t it?
In that case, it is important to understand the basic principle.
I understand I contributed to society by making metal tapes to enhance recording density. Because I was not satisfied with the horizontal magnet itself which has a principle contradiction, I wondered if I could make high-density tapes. It is important to have a higher goal that the present one. Thus I reached the recording method using a vertical magnet. Fortunately, that was a technical innovation that made a great impact on the world.

Given the Honorary Citizen title by Kalamata, Greece in June, 2007

I attended the international symposium on magnetic recording held in
Kalamata, where I was awarded the Honorary Citizen title by the mayor of Kalamata. The certificate says, “The vertical magnetic recording by Dr. Shunichi Iwasaki is a great scientific achievement, contributing to the development of information technology and communications.” I have had many prizes awarded both from in and out of Japan but especially I feel honored and grateful to accept the one from Kalamata. I was deeply impressed that the city understands firmly the relations between science and technology all the better as a birthplace of ancient civilization.

Practice of our slogan, “From Creation to Integration—Starting from Sendai”

I think you will understand our slogan, “ From Creation to Integration—Starting from Sendai” through looking at this process I have practiced so far.
I am determined to aim at integration of research and educational result into society, foster excellent human resources, make efforts, leading the institute to be essential to society and prosperous in Sendai, the Tohoku district.



IWASAKI Shun-ichi

History of Iwasaki Vertical Magnetic Recording Techniques


I began research of magnetic recording under Prof. Kenzo Nagai of Tohoku University.


I invented metal tapes (horizontal type).


I developed high-density recording theory.


I paid attention to magnetization of vertical direction on recording side.


I established the No.144 Committee on Magnetic Recording (the Society for Japan Academic Promotion). Since then its meeting has been held 187 times.


I announced the “vertical magnetic recording system” at the International Applied Magnetism Conference. It received a great response.


The number of theses on vertical magnetic recording system at U.S. Electric and Electronic Conference sharply decreased. This was because IBM proposed the improvement of horizontal recording system by magnetic resistant regenerative head. Since then public interest became “the death valley”.


Inaugurated as president of TOHTECH


Hitachi GST published the world’s first HDD prototype in Canada.

Afterwards research related with this was activated again.

May 2005

Toshiba Corp. published the world’s first music player loaded with a vertical magnetic recording hard disk.

May 2006

Hitachi GST began to ship vertical magnetic recording hard disks.

April 2007

I was inaugurated as Chairperson of the Board of Directors of TOHTECH.

June 2007

I was awarded the Honorary Citizen title at the International Storage Technology Symposium 2007 held in Kalamata, Greece.

*The CEO of Hitachi GST paid a courtesy visit to our president in May 2006, followed by the president of Toshiba Corp, in November 2007, the vice president of Fujitsu Ltd. in June 2007 which was going to ship soon, and the president of Seagate. They gave us the first machine, the experimental machine and memorial shield trophy.