A brief history of the USB flash drive

Over the past few years, both home and business computer users have come to rely on USB flash drives, also known as thumb drives or USB sticks. They’ve replaced the flimsy floppy disks of the 1990s as the go-to way to store and transfer data.

Doctor Masuoka of Toshiba is the mastermind behind the USB flash drive, which he developed in the 1980s. Erasing the contents of the drive reminded one of Masuoka’s assistants of a flash, thus the term ‘flash drive’ was coined. The huge potential of this new technology was jumped on by Intel, who released the first commercial flash chip in 1988. This was a NOR type chip, and later in 1988, Toshiba developed the NAND flash chip, with faster read and write times at a significantly cheaper cost to produce.

USB flash drive history

The first NAND removable media format was SmartMedia, quickly followed by MultiMediaCard and Secure Digital, and NAND flash memory is still used in the manufacture of USB memory sticks today. In 2001, IBM sold the first 8MB (that MB, not GB as we’re used to today) in 2001 under the ‘Memory Key’ name, which was followed by a 16MB version and then a 64MB version in 2003. The storage capacity has increased exponentially since then, and now 64GB and 128GB USB flash drives are commonplace around the home and office.

It’s worthwhile to learn more about the Universal Serial Bus as it’s something you use almost every day. The USB has come a very long way from just being a computer accessory. It is, in fact, used in practically every available platform for play, work, and education.

If you run into USB problems, a dedicated data recovery company is your go-to for getting your data back.