The past decade has seen massive increases in the storage capacity of USB flash drives, often called thumb drives. Not only can they store a great deal of data, but they're also small and highly portable. Because they lack moving parts, flash drives are more reliable than earlier storage media like floppy disks.
Early Flash Drives
The first USB flash drives were put on the market in 2000. They had a storage capacity of 8 megabytes. By 2003, flash drives had become widely available, and their capacity had jumped to 128 megabytes. From there, capacity quickly increased to 256 megabytes, then to 512 megabytes, then to 1 gigabyte.
Current Flash Drives
Flash drives commonly sold today have storage capacities which range between 4 gigabytes and 64 gigabytes. The largest storage capacity currently available in a commercially produced flash drive is 256 gigabytes.
Future of Flash Drives
Over the next several years, flash memory technology will likely be overtaken by nanotechnology, which can create thumb drives capable of storing a terabyte of data. According to Michael Kozicki, director of Arizona State University's Center for Applied Nanoionics, there would potentially be no limit to storage capacity with the new technology.
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