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There was a revolution in computing in the 1950s. Computer engineers at IBM turned to the data storage division of 3M, which later became Imation™ Corp. in 1996, to create a way to decouple data from the computer. By migrating data to magnetic tape media, data could be stored, transported, replicated and protected more effectively. This was the start of the data storage industry as we know it today – where data storage would evolve into more effective solutions driven by advances in storage networking, storage software, data management and data protection.

The only constant of the computer age has been data growth. And that data is stored on a myriad of media choices - hard disk drives, optical discs, flash drives, SSD and of course the ongoing use of tape – all critical to the use, protection and organization of information vital to our businesses and our lives.

Today, businesses and IT managers alike are wrestling with the next evolution of business infrastructure. Whether it’s unified storage, data tiering and archiving, virtualization, cloud deployments, PaaS, SaaS, PBBA’s, or a refresh of data security standards in the organization, there are incredible changes happening. But there is one thing that is consistent: Users will continue to drive new creative content that will push the boundaries and requirements for information storage, and that information must be secured.

When it comes to ensuring that your data is protected, preserved, and available when you want and need it, Imation is there.


The business that would become Imation was born of 3M innovation in the 1950s, at the dawn of the computer age. A pioneer in the development of the first reel-to-reel data storage tape, Imation (formerly 3M) technology was for decades the standard in increasingly high-capacity data cartridges that protected and archived the most critical information.

As the digital revolution took hold in the 1980s, Imation half-inch tape cartridges became the media of choice for the massive tape libraries that today form the backbone of modern data centers. Imation remains the leader in magnetic tape media today. We work with development partners like IBM and Oracle to increase capacity, speed of data storage and access, and reliability to meet this unending data storage demand.


Imation Corp. became an independent company in a spinoff from 3M on July 1, 1996. From day one, the new company was the leader in commercial data center and emerging corporate IT markets.

Data center technology continued to advance, and a partnership with StorageTek (later a part of Sun Microsystems and now Oracle) delivered next-generation tape cartridges with the fastest data access ever in the half-inch tape market.

Not long after Imation’s launch, the company received its first patent – for Travan™ technology that quickly became a standard for small business data backup – and launched the revolutionary 120MB SuperDisk technology. By the end of the 1990s, Imation had also introduced a portfolio of recordable CD and DVD media.


Stylish product design became a cornerstone of Imation personal storage products in the new millennium as Imation moved into USB flash technology with the innovative Imation USB Swivel Flash Drives, the Imation Nano Flash Drive and the Micro Hard Drive. In 2006, Imation began manufacturing advanced Blu-ray high-definition recordable optical media.

In 2008, Imation pushed these innovations even further with the Imation Atom flash drive, enabling users to store up to 8GB on a drive the size of a paper clip.

Corporate IT departments were increasingly turning to storage networks, and Imation stayed in the vanguard. We helped shape the technology for new, standards-based magnetic tape media, including LTO Ultrium™ cartridges. In the data center, IBM selected Imation to develop and supply extended-length 3590 cartridges, and named Imation as its global branded media distributor, leveraging Imation’s strength as a global supplier.

In 2005, Imation introduced its Tera Angstrom™ technology, the result of a $50M investment in advanced tape coating technology to meet rising storage needs. The result was the ability to put multiple terabytes of data on a single tape cartridge.

In 2006, Imation added several respected and sought-after brands, further strengthening its data storage position while leveraging the brands in related consumer offerings. These included:

  • Memorex (2006) – one of the strongest recording media brands and an optical share leader in the U.S.
  • Imation acquired the recording media business of TDK Corporation (2007), with an exclusive license to the TDK Life on Record brand for data storage and audio products.
  • Memcorp (2007), which opened opportunities to offer a wide range of Memorex-branded consumer electronics products.
  • XtremeMac (2008), offering products that protect, power and play Apple devices.


In the 2010s, Imation reinforced its strategy as a global company focused on scalable data storage and data security. We made key investments in technology both through organic development in our laboratories and through acquisitions.

Encryption, Portable Storage and Workspaces

  • In 2011, Imation made a number of acquisitions to build a technology leadership position for securing mobile data and mobile Windows workspaces.
  • ENCRYPTX Corporation (2011) and its encryption and security solutions for removable storage devices and media.
  • MXI Security assets (2011), including MXI's portable security solutions and technologies, and secure portable workspace solutions.
  • IronKey’s secure hardware business (2011) – built to be the World’s Most Secure Flash Drives™, the IronKey products are iconic in the high-security portable storage market. Our portable storage and workspace portfolio is sold today under the IronKey brand.

Scalable disk-based storage technologies

Focused on enabling computing and protecting data, Imation invested in storage technology acquisitions to meet the underserved needs of midmarket and SME organizations. In late 2011, Imation acquired patented data deduplication technology from Nine Technology. This software engine eliminates redundant data, enabling shorter backup windows, quicker recovery, lower infrastructure costs and more robust and reliable data protection. This is a building block technology for Imation’s scalable storage and data security businesses.

And at the end of 2012, Imation completed the $120M acquisition of Nexsan Corp. Today, Imation’s Nexsan portfolio features solid-state optimized unified hybrid storage systems, secure automated archive solutions and high-density enterprise storage arrays. Nexsan solutions are ideal for mission-critical IT applications such as virtualization, cloud, databases, and collaboration; and energy efficient, high-density storage for backup and archiving. There are more than 11,000 customers of Nexsan solutions worldwide with more than 33,000 systems deployed since 1999. Nexsan systems are delivered through a worldwide network of cloud service providers, value-added resellers and solutions integrators.

We are well on our way to achieving our vision as a leading global technology company that helps people and organizations store, protect and connect their digital world.

The TDK Life on Record logo is used under a trademark license from TDK Corporation.

TDK Life on Record is not affiliated with LifeOnRecord.