USB Flash Drives – USB stick, USB RAM, Memory Stick

The near-ubiquitous USB flash drive is of course improperly named, as it has no drive as such, but the term was initially coined because the devices were seen as replacements for floppy disks drives for transferring data between PCs. The 1.44MB capacity limit of floppies was beginning to render them useless as the popularity of PC’s, networks and the internet in particular meant that files were simply too big. Flash drives first came out in 2000, a couple of years after the beginning of the internet explosion which led to people buying PCs in order to actually access the internet, whereas prior to that, they were buying PCs to do particular jobs, and maybe get internet access. This shift in attitude increased the number of PCs in use and the amount of data that needed to be transported, and USB flash drives provided not only the higher capacities needed, but were faster and sturdier than floppies into the bargain. There are many terms used for these devices, such as thumb drives, memory keys, memory sticks (although this is actually a trade mark for Sony’s proprietary memory cards) or pen drives, but flash drive seems to be the most universally accepted. As flash memory technology has improved, the capacity of these devices has increased dramatically and the adoption of the USB 2.0 standard has allowed faster data transfer speeds. Flash drives of capacities larger than many CDs are now commonplace, allowing them to be used for software distribution, operating systems, backing up and taking whole computing environments around, although the most common use is still to carry around personal data...

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