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The World’s First Data Recovery

As we ring in the New Year, I am compelled to look back in the past.  We would not be where we are today if it was not for the world’s first data recovery.  Almost 30 years ago, Kroll Ontrack completed the first successful data recovery. It all started back in 1985 when a company called Ontrack Computer Systems created a software program called Disk Manager®.

Humble Beginnings

Back in 1985, due to limitations of the operating system and BIOS constraints, computers were not utilizing the entire capacity of a hard disk drive (HDD).  They could only store about 32 MB of data. Disk manager enabled a person to easily install a computer HDD and attracted the eye of computer manufacturers because it could override the BIOS.  This allowed customers to install a drive in their computer and gain full storage capacity for the HDD with only a click of a button.  Disk Manager began to be included with all of the disk manufacturer’s products.  The software went on to sell over 150 million copies. The partnership between the disk manufacturers and Ontrack Computer Systems was the stepping stone to our specialization in data recovery.

A New Problem

The Ontrack Computer System’s engineering team soon became experts in the intricate details of how hard drives operate.  The drive manufacturers allowed them to work closely with their teams to learn how data is written on the platters of the drives and how different operating systems use storage.  This knowledge prepared the engineers for the first successful commercial data recovery.  In 1987, a US firm approached Ontrack Computer Systems after it lost the CAD drawings of a garbage truck.  The business was banking on the design of this new truck to keep it in business.  They invested a large amount of time and all of their capital in the design when suddenly the server hard drives crashed.

Emerging Data Recovery Experts

First, the company contacted the drive and operating system manufacturers for assistance, but their efforts were unsuccessful. Fear set in.  Who could recover the data if the manufacturers failed?  The company started to lose hope.  Both manufacturers recommended that the company contact the only other company that understood their products, Ontrack Computer Systems.  It took the engineering team weeks of trying everything possible before they finally had a breakthrough.  They were able to recover the crucial files and save the company from bankruptcy. Ontrack Data Recovery® was born – the first data recovery company in the world.  Our partnership with the manufacturers and OEMs launched the business.  It wasn’t long after the first recovery that manufacturers started including the contact information for Ontrack data Recovery on the packaging of the Disk Manager software included in their products.  Worldwide distributions of the software lead to the growth of our business and the formation of Kroll Ontrack.  Many of the employees who worked on our first data recovery are still with us today.  These individual’s quest for knowledge and persistence in problem-solving have built Kroll Ontrack to what we are today, the world’s largest data recovery company.

3 Responses to "The World’s First Data Recovery"

  • David Martin
    25th January 2014 - 11:33 am Reply

    Well written blog on the start-up of data recovery. We learned lot of thing from this quality post.

  • Niki Armstrong
    28th January 2014 - 9:02 am Reply

    Fantastic blog Disaster Recovery.

    • Alex Michael
      14th February 2017 - 8:15 am Reply

      I am also in data recovery business from years. Learn something good about data recovery history from your post. Thanks Jennifer for sharing the useful information.

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