The thumb drive ruled our middle schools and high schools in the early 2000s before internet storage came along. Before the invention of the internet data drive, there was the good old flash drive that could be personalized and swapped around between friends to share funny home videos or pictures. In my hometown school, the trend was to buy the funkiest thumb drives possible. Some people bought actual “thumb” drives that looked like real thumbs, while others opted for cute animals like penguins and panda bears. If you had a really cool thumb drive, you were instantly branded “hip” and “fun.”
In spite of the heavy competition from internet data storage providers, thumb drives have continued to be widely used. You can find them in most superstores and office stores, and many businesses still use them today to ensure ultimate privacy with confidential documents. There are still so many uses for the thumb drive, and it is in no way obsolete, even in the age of the cloud.
Most of us have owned a thumb drive at some point, and there’s no denying how handy they are. But where exactly did this little device originate? Who pioneered the first USB flash drive? Let’s dig into the history of this fine piece of technology.
The invention of the USB flash drive is credited to the Israeli company M-Systems. Three employees of M-Systems, Amir Ban, Dov Moran, and Oron Ogdan engineered the first thumb drive and were granted a U.S. patent for it in late 2000. The devices were originally only sold in Singapore, but once the U.S. patent was granted, USB flash drives were popping up everywhere in America, and the technology quickly became the standard for external data storage. I’m sure it’s safe to say that those three employees of M-Systems are really happy with the turnout of their little invention!
The first thumb drive could only hold 8 megabytes of data. Today, there are thumb drives for sale that can hold up to 1000 gigabytes of data. What a massive difference almost twenty years can make! Who knows what kinds of data storage devices and technologies we’ll have in another twenty years from now.
Do you still use thumb drives? You’re not alone! In fact, millions of people around the world are still using the device for security reasons. Although online cloud storage touts security promises, the security that a removable, external data storage device offers is hard to beat. Many corporations and small businesses alike will use USB flash drives to store confidential data, and many individuals may store their personal information on the devices to ensure a level of privacy that a cloud storage device may not be able to provide.
For a device so small, the USB flash drive has had a huge impact on the technology world. It will be interesting to see how the thumb drive progresses and changes over the next ten to twenty years.