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History Of Usb

Updated on July 14, 2011


History of the USB storage device

I’ve always thought that whoever came up with the idea of a USB storage device was genius. The compact, easy to carry and use flash drive has made storing information more convenient than ever. It can be used as a backup for data, data transport, and storage of certain programs to name a few.

Although obsolete today, thanks to online backup technology, I thought it might be good to pay homage to this technology of the past.

In trying to extract some history of the device, there is some variance as to who invented it first. Most mentioned an Israeli company called M-Systems that had been working on a USB storage device since 1998. In 1999 they registered the domain with the intention of selling the product. In 2000 Dan Harkabi joined M-Systems and further led the development of the DiskOnKey product. Ziba did the industrial design, and the device won an IDEA award in 2001. M-Systems do have a detailed patent of the USB flash drive and its implementation. They were acquired by SanDisk in 2006.

IBM began selling the first USB flash drives in December 2000, using the DiskOnKey product. This had a storage capacity of 8 MB, making it five times the capacity of a floppy disk. At the same time Trek Technology out of Singapore was selling a model called “ThumbDrive”. Eventually in 2004, Trek Technology brought several lawsuits against other USB manufacturers in an attempt to assert their patent rights. The dramas continued when courts in Singapore sided with them and ordered a cease and desist to competitors selling products covered by Trek Technology’s patent. Eventually a court in the United Kingdom revoked one of Trek’s patents in that country, opening the door back up for others to develop.

Since then, the development and technology of the USB storage devices has continued to improve. Flash drives are removable and rewritable, and are a relatively dense form of storage. They are still less expensive and will hold more data than a CD. The best flash drives will now store more data than a DVD. The most common amount of storage is 16GB. They have low power consumption, and the small size allows for greater portability.

The amazing technology of a USG storage device has shown that it can make it through a washing machine and retain its memory in most cases after drying thoroughly. Some companies have done testing in which the device was run over by a Jeep, frozen in dry ice, submerged in acid, and fired with a mortar. This company which specialized in recovering lost data found that the little key passed the test when all other types of storage were destroyed.

The development of the USB made memory systems with serially accessed storage more viable. Along with the development of smaller, high speed, and low power microprocessors created the ability to have the technology incorporated into more extreme compact systems. These systems behaved very much like hard drives, where the controller system had say in where the information is stored. In addition, low cost MP3 players were developed by simply adding extra software to the flash memory to serve music playback purposes. These players can also be used for storing data like a flash drive.

The USB storage device has become an integral part of computer programming and storage. Watch for their memory capacities to continue to improve as high speed is now the standard. The flash drives will continue to become smaller with advanced technology as well.


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