Hard Disk Pioneer Wins ?1m Technology Prize
A physicist whose discovery led to the era of small high-capacity disk drives and cloud computing has won a major technology award and a ?1m (£824,000) prize.
Professor Stuart Parkin, who is originally from Watford, was awarded the Millennium Technology Prize in Helsinki, Finland, for his 1988 breakthrough.
His work in the field of spintronics - in which he developed a type of data-reading head capable of detecting weaker and smaller signals than previously possible - helped increase the capacity of disk storage.
Prof Parkin, now based at IBM in the US, said: "What this means for the typical person is that they can access vast libraries - indeed all the books ever written - they can stream movies, search for any information, go on social media and share photos with their friends, and much more."
He added: "Without this device and this technology, the modern world as we know it probably wouldn't exist - the idea of disk drives and storing data in the cloud."
Previous winners of the award, given by the Technology Academy, include Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with the invention of the World Wide Web.
The honour is given to those judged to have invented something that has changed people's lives for the better, usually on a global scale.
Prof Parkin said he was not considered what to do with the prize money.
He gained a PhD in physics from Cambridge University in 1981 before first working with IBM in 1997, when the technology giant began to use his disk drive in their own products, making it the industry standard.