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Geek Trivia: Gone to the dogs

What disk drive technology pioneer ran his dog for Congress in 1996?


We asked what disk drive technology pioneer gained additional fame in 1996 when he promoted his dog as a write-in candidate for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The tech guru in question is none other than Al Shugart, cofounder of Shugart Technology, which later became Seagate Technology. Shugart's Bernese mountain dog, Ernest, was the canine candidate; he, not surprisingly, failed to capture the Congressional seat, largely because the Federal Election Commission revoked his previously approved candidacy when it realized Ernest wasn't human. (How Ernest became a viable candidate without a social security number is another matter entirely.)

The Friends of Ernest (FOE) campaign has since transformed into an approved and registered citizen watchdog group (pun very much intended). Shugart himself has since left Seagate Technology and formed his own consultancy, Al Shugart International. However, Shugart's adventures with Ernest didn't completely exorcise his political dissatisfaction.

In 2001, Shugart ran another unconventional campaign for his local California congressional seat. This time Shugart himself was the candidate.

However, Shugart refused to join a political party, instead running as a write-in candidate in the same fashion as Ernest, and spending a miniscule self-financed campaign budget that extended to little more than bumper stickers and yard signs. Not surprisingly, Shugart's electoral ambitions met with the same fate as Ernest's—defeat—but it makes for great Geek Trivia.

About Jay Garmon

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

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