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Fire destory historic IBM lab in San Jose

Associated Press

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Fire has destroyed a Silicon Valley building caught up in a court fight over whether the one-time IBM lab where engineers invented a forerunner of the modern hard drive should be preserved as a landmark.

About 75 firefighters spent more than eight hours battling the blaze at the structure, known as IBM Building 25, before bringing the flames under control Saturday morning, authorities said.

"The entire structure is a total loss," said Capt. Anthony Pianto of the San Jose Fire Department.

Investigators were still working to determine the cause of the fire at the building, which had been vacant since 1996.

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Preservationists have been battling the city of San Jose for years over plans to demolish the building, erected in 1957, to make way for a Lowe’s Cos. Home Improvement Warehouse.

Researchers working at the building invented the flying head disk drive, which improved a computer’s ability to search its memory and helped make computers smaller.

A report prepared for the city's historic landmarks commission described Building 25 as one of the earliest architectural examples of the high-tech corporate campuses now scattered throughout Silicon Valley and beyond.

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