What is a SCSI Host Adapter?

What is a SCSI Host Adapter, and why is it important? When most people think of technology companies they think of Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Dell or HP. These are the brand names they see on the products they buy. Most people think these companies design and build everything in the products they buy from them but nothing is further from the truth. Many of these companies were created by visionary founders that are also familiar to many people such as Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. While many of these founders had a broad idea of what they wanted to accomplish they often did not have the expertise to complete all aspects of the product.

Here is an example. Steve Jobs looks at the new CD drive invented by SONY as a replacement for LP’s. Steve sees a device for storing data. He asks his engineers to interface a CD drive to a Mac. His engineers are not experts in doing this job. They could try to learn how to do it, they could try to hire someone who knows, or they can go to a company like Future Domain that already has done this type of work many times, has chips and software for the job already done, and has a track record.

This type of thing happens over and over in technology, and there are thousands of companies with specialized knowledge that the “big picture” companies like Apple work with all the time, buying their products and/or services to include in their own. Many more engineers made there fortune from building these “glue” companies than the companies most people are familiar with. That is because new technologies are always emerging and always need to be glued together to get the final product you see as an “Apple Mac”.

SCSI stands for Small Computer System Interface, an interface standard originally proposed by Al Shugart at Seagate Technology designed to bring order to the chaos of computer IO device interfaces. By standardizing a flexible interface it would be easier to add disks or tapes or any device to a small computer. Companies like Adaptec, Western Digital, NCR, Future Domain and other all saw the benefits of Al’s proposal and began working on making it a reality.