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A history of removable storage

From paper tape to USB sticks


Over the years, people have tried to transfer information from one computer to another in a dizzying number of ways. Here's a look at some of the best, along with others that time forgot.

The hive mind

For the past 15 years, local area networks and the internet have been replacing removable media for the average computer user.

With nearly every computer today now connected to a global network, users rarely need to copy data to external media and move it physically to another computer.

Instead, a network of wires and electronic signals takes care of the transfer; A quick email message can carry a file around the world.

More significantly, wireless standards such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are replacing the need for any physical link at all.

Removable media has already become obsolete for many day-to-day computer activities, replaced by bits wandering restlessly through the ether.

Photos: The Opte Project/Linksys

See also: Store any file type on Google Docs

  1. From paper tape to USB sticks
  2. Data on tape
  3. Tape cartridges
  4. The floppy diskette
  5. The ROM cartridge
  6. The optical disc
  7. Iomega and the zip drive
  8. A removable mess
  9. Removable storage for your rodent
  10. The hive mind

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