Reynold B. Johnson,92, a prolific inventor known as the...


September 18, 1998

Reynold B. Johnson,92, a prolific inventor known as the father of the computer disk drive, died Tuesday of cancer in San Jose, Calif., where he led the IBM laboratory that developed a way in 1956 to store computer data on a metal disk instead of a tape or drum.

The Random Access Method of Accounting Control established a new IBM division as a major force in Silicon Valley and launched a multibillion-dollar computer disk drive industry.

Mr. Johnson invented many devices in addition to the disk drive. Every teacher who has given a multiple-choice test can appreciate one of his first creations.

As a Michigan high school teacher during the Depression, he built a device to electronically record test scores made by pencils. Beatrice Rashleigh, a teaching colleague and later his wife of 64 years, wrote a newspaper story about it. An IBM salesman saw it and gave Mr. Johnson a job.

Malcolm L. "Shorty" Jarvis Sr.,75, a jazz trumpeter and close friend of Malcolm X, died Tuesday in Plainfield, Conn. The Boston native befriended the young Malcolm Little in the pool halls of Roxbury, Mass.

Eliza Briggs,81, a leader in the fight to desegregate public schools, died Tuesday.

Mrs. Briggs of Summerton, S.C., and her husband, Harry Briggs, signed on to the 1949 lawsuit that challenged the fairness of Clarendon County's school system. Historians call it the catalyst that triggered the U.S. Supreme Court's precedent-setting Brown vs. Board of Education decision five years later.

Annabelle Bowen Irwin,82, co-author of more than a dozen novels for young adults, died Sunday of complications of hepatitis C in Des Moines, Iowa. She was also an English professor at Iowa State University and retired in 1985.

Under the pen name Hadley Irwin, she and Lee Hadley wrote 13 works of fiction, including "The Lillith Summer," "I Can't Hear you Listening," and "Jim Dandy." They also worked with author Jeanette Eyerly on the instructional book "How to Write for Young Adults."

Pub Date: 9/18/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.