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.
A removable mess
Following the stunning success of the Zip Drive in the mid- to late 1990s, a raft of competitors and follow-ups emerged, hoping to steal a piece of Zip's pie.
Iomega's most prominent competitor was SyQuest, which balkanised and diluted its own market with numerous drives like the SyJet, the SparQ, the EZFlyer, and the EZ135.
Another promising (but obscure) competitor was the Castlewood Orb, which stored 2.2GB on a Zip-like disk.
Finally, Iomega itself tried to supplement the Zip with other categories of removable media, from high-capacity removable hard disks (the 1GB and 2GB Jaz Drive) to the miniature 40MB Clik drive. None caught on the way the Zip did.
Not just a flash in the pan
Toshiba invented NAND flash memory in the early 1980s, but the technology didn't gain prominence and a price plummet until the digital camera and PDA boom of the late 1990s.
Subsequently it has become available in myriad forms, from large proprietary cards (designed for use in early handheld PCs) to PC Card sizes to CompactFlash, SmartMedia, Secure Digital, Memory Stick, xD Picture Card, and more.
Flash storage is popular because it is completely solid-state with no moving parts. Flash cards require little power to operate, they are rugged, and their storage space has increased exponentially over the years while the media itself remains relatively inexpensive. The first CF cards held 2MB of data; today they can hold 128GB.
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