Category Archives: Thumb drive history

Flash Drive History and Evolution

Flash drives or USB thumb drives as they are also known are a device for data storage that is of the NAND type as described on this wikipedia page here.  the devices being integrated with an interface that is a USB. They are very convenient due to their small size and weight and the fact that they are both rewritable and removable. These drives are available with different storage limits ranging from usually 4GB to 64GB.

usb thumb drive components
                                                Typical USB 2.0 thumb drive components diagram

There are a number of advantages of using a thumb drive as opposed to the now antiquated floppy disc. They are smaller, more reliable, rarely break due to the lack of moving parts, and they can hold more data and are faster too. Inside a thumb drive you will find a circuit board; this board is printed and encased in a tough metal or plastic exterior, meaning you can carry it around in your bag or pocket. There is generally a removable cap on the end that protects the protruding USB connector. The vast majority of flash drives can be connected directly to your PC through a standard USB connector.

The USB connection provides the power supply for the flash drive, meaning that it needs no other external source of power and will work when simply connected to the USB of your computer or other device. You need to connect your flash drive to your computer via a USB port or HUB in order to read the data that is saved on it.

The very first USB flash drive that was created was an 8MB version that was known as the 16 megabyte “disgo”. Dov Moran, CEO and president of M-System Flash Pioneers invented the very first flash drive in 1998. The now Vice President of SanDisk, Dan Harkabi led the marketing and development of the drive at M-Systems. The most significant advance made by him was the development of a flash drive that did not need you to install any drivers to use it. Trek 2000 and Netac also undertook simultaneous developments, creating very similar products. These three companies all patented their devices, the patents being disputed at the time. The first flash drive to be sold was in the US, the drive being sold in 2001 under the name “Memory key”. The drive had an 8MB capacity. Later on, Trek 2000 manufactured a 16MB version that was introduced onto the market by IBM; then in 2003 the 64MB version was to be introduced by M-Systems. Lexar is another company that can lay claim to a flash or thumb drive. In 2000, Lexar were to produce a CF (Compact Flash) card that had an internal USB. This product eliminated the need for a USB as it was offered with a USB cable and a companion card reader.
The first thumb or flash drives that were to be sold in Europe were sold under the “disgo” name, and they were made by M-Systems in sizes of 8, 16, 32, and 64MB. This product was marketed to kill the floppy disc for good, and the largest capacity to be introduced onto the market was 256MB. After the introduction of flash drives in Europe, cheaper alternatives would then appear onto the Asian market.

A modern flash drive has a USB2.0 connectivity. However, although systems will support a 480 Mbit/s drive, technical limitations in the NAND flash mean that this limit is never actually reached.

Everywhere you look nowadays you will see flash drives that include business logos and are printed and made in many different designs. Flash drives have mean that businesses have been able to reach their real branding objectives, the promotion merchandise being heavily successful. When you own a flash drive, you can simply save and transport your files and data wherever you go. A business can promote itself to anyone, anywhere; all that is necessary is a USB port. Businesses are even able to offer further services such as providing catalogs, discount vouchers, and promotional materials on their pen drives. They can include huge amounts of electronic data on their drives, providing huge success for them wherever they go.

Since the first introduction of the flash drive, the growth has been extremely quick, and both the quality and quantity have increased. Businesses began to make bulk order of flash or thumb drives; this meant that they could save both time and financial resources. Also, the quality of flash drives has improved immensely since they were first introduced, and there is a wide range of capacities available to meet the different demands of the consumer. Some people require a small drive such as an 1GB drive for personal use; others need 32GB or more for their business requirements. As well as choosing from different storage amounts, businesses can also choose promotional flash drives to promote their brand, the storage limitations being unimportant in this case. As well as flash drives and thumb drives, businesses have also being developing USB watches and pens; in these cases the development has been geared more to design and fashion rather than to the actual capacity of the drive.