Evolution of the Flash Drive

Evolution of the Flash Drive

USB Flash drives have been around for more than a decade, but they were not as popular or as powerful as they are today. Like every piece of technology, USBs had to be built form the ground up and went through several changes before they caught the eye of the awaiting public. Follow us now as we take you through the last decade and analyze the evolution USB flash drive and how they came to be today.

The year was 1995 and companies were scrambling to create the first universal connector for emerging electronics. Companies such as IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and Compaq banded together came up with the idea for a Universal Serial Port (USB). The first version of USB would be named USB 1.0 and would not be officially introduced to nearly a year later in 1996. The 1.0 specifications are trivial by today’s standards, only topping out at 12Mbit/s, but USB had to start somewhere.

The next evolution in USBs would not come until 1998 when USB 1.1 was released. 1.1 was a almost identical to 1.0 except it allowed for slower devices such a joysticks, keyboards, mice, etc. to be plugged in at a lower speed. It allowed these devices to obtain speeds up to 1.5Mbit/s.

It would take another two years of research and development before the next generation of USB drives would arrive in 2000. The new generation would be named USB 2.0 and was a vast improvement over the earlier editions. 2.0 pushed the bounds of what we thought was possible and was able to achieve speeds reaching 480Mbit/s. However, it would take be another year before the technology became standardized.

From 2002-2007 USBs remained pretty much the same. It would not be until 2008 that a growing concern for faster transfer rates would spark the next generation of flash drives. The wheels started turning but their result would not be revealed to the world until 2009 with the announcement of USB 3.0.  These new flash drives were up to 10X faster than 2.0, conserved energy, are backwards compatible, as well as allowed for bi-directional data transferring. The first consumer ready products would be released in late 2009/beginning of 2010.

Surprisingly Intel, the company that helped introduce USB technology to the world has yet to support USB 3.0 technology. Many have speculated that Intel was delaying implementation in favor of their new Light Peak technology now nicknamed “Thunderbolt”. It has yet to be seen if Intel will eventually support 3.0, but there are rumors and speculation that Intel might be supporting 3.0 as early as 2012.