The USB flash drive is a tiny storage device that uses flash memory. It connects to a computer via a USB port. A flash drive is usually portable and rewritable. A single device can store anywhere from 64MB to 256GB and more depending on the model’s capacity. Because flash drives are so small and portable, they are ideal for carrying data while on the road. They can also be used to transfer data between two computers.
Invention of the Flash Drive
In the early days of the computer, things were much simpler. Files were small in size, so floppy disks were enough to store them in. But as computer technology advanced, so did the types of files used. Now floppy disks could only hold 1.44MB of data at a time and they were very slow. There was a need for a better portable storage device.
It was IBM and Trek Technology who invented and sold the first USB flash drives in the year 2000. Trek Technology was a Singaporean company. They dubbed the new invention as a “thumb drive” because its size was roughly that of a thumb. In the US and Canada, IBM marketed a flash drive called “Disk On Key” which was made in Israel. The first flash drives had capacity of only 8MB. But this was already a huge leap from the 1.44MB capacity floppy disks in use at that time.
Benefits of the Flash Drive
The flash drive fulfills the same role as floppy disks, CD-RWs and other removable storage devices. They can be used to back up or transfer data. Floppy disks are now obsolete with new computers rarely carrying them. CD-RWs and other rewritable media are slower and more fragile. Flash drives are not liable to damage due to their compact size. They also run faster thanks to USB technology. What’s more, flash drive models vary greatly in capacity and price. So it is possible to buy what one needs at reasonable cost.
Flash drives come in all size capacities, price tags and even packaging. Some novelty models come in unusual cases such as toys or food. These may be harder to use since large, odd shapes can block other, free USB ports besides what the flash drive connects to. But no matter what size or shape it takes, the flash drive comes in handy to everyone. It is one of the truly useful inventions in recent computer technology.