Egan had an amazing life, encompassing involvement in the Apollo space programme, the US Marines, starting and building the most successful storage company on the planet, and becoming the US ambassador to Ireland. Finally, aged 73 and facing a lingering death, he ended the battle decisively and on his terms. He was never a shrinking violet.
Richard (Dick) Egan was born in Milton, Massachusetts in 1936, grew up in Dorchester, He has been described as a hardscrabble street kid."
In 1979, Egan co-founded EMC with Roger Marino - the 'E' stands for Egan, 'M' for Marino, and the 'C' for corporation, maybe. They saw that minicomputers were a growing business and that there was an opening for supplying memory expansion cards to these minicomputers. The manufacturers sold them at high price, but Egan and Marino reckoned they could buy their own, sell them for half the minicomputer makers' prices and still make a profit.
He and Marino sold office furniture to raise the starting cash needed for EMC. The firm sold memory boards for Prime minicomputers, and added boards for IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Wang and Digital Equipment minis too.
The company then added the sale of hard disk drives. Then there came the epochal shift into selling storage arrays for IBM mainframes.
The idea was to sell externally-attached storage arrays, built from commodity hard disk drives, to mainframe and server computers. Until then the server manufacturers sold the storage needed, enjoying a captive market with customers locked into their products.
In the late eighties EMC ripped that cosy relationship apart. The company sold better arrays for less money than the server manufacturers' own products. EMC sold its arrays for attachment to customers running IBM mainframes, and HP, Compaq and Sun servers, running both Windows and Unix operating systems. The company grew rich as it won storage sales from these server companies.
EMC formed part of the Massachusetts high-tech business community, alongside mini-computer manufacturers Data General, Digital Equipment, Prime and Wang. Mini-computers and workstations from Sun and Apollo were establishing themselves as alternatives to mainframes and green screen terminals. The PC was about to be invented and the Internet did not exist except in nascent form. Email was in its infancy.
EMC went public in 1987 with its shares selling for $21.50. At IPO time EMC had revenues of $66m and profits of $18.6m. Four days after the IPO, on Black Monday, the price slumped to $16.00."