In the race to make tinier and lighter portable computers, component manufacturers are working feverishly to shrink parts as small as they can without sacrificing performance. The latest development comes from Maxtor Corp.

On Jan. 11, the San Jose (Calif.) company introduced a hard-disk drive that is about the size of a 0.4-inch-high stack of credit cards. The device uses the increasingly popular Personal Computer Memory Card International Assn. (PCMCIA) standard, which is used to connect add-ons such as modems to portable computers. Maxtor says the MXL-105-III can hold more than 105 megabytes on two 1.8-inch-diameter platters, making it the highest capacity PCMCIA-compliant disk drive now available. Volume shipments to computer makers are expected to begin in May. Other companies are not far behind. MiniStor Peripherals Corp., also in San Jose, plans to release a similar-sized PCMCIA hard drive this year, says President James N. Miller.

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