Who Invented the USB Flash Drive?

By Isaiah Turning

A USB flash frive.
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Universal serial bus (USB) flash drives are removable storage devices that offer portability and storage capacities that older storage devices are unable to match. For this reason, USB flash drives have helped computer users that require a stable means of quick data storage and transfer. The history of the USB flash drive is relatively short, but introduced many significant benefits since the first USB flash drive hit the markets. However, the history of USB flash drives has not been without controversy.


The first USB drive launched during the year 2000.
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According to his profile on EE Times, Dov Moran of M-Systems first conceptualized the USB flash drive in 1998 after experiencing computer problems during a presentation to investors. The USB flash drive involved combining the stability of Flash memory with the connectivity and speed offered by USB. M-Systems launched the first USB flash drive in 2000. Around the same time, Netac Technology and Trek Technology began selling USB flash drives as well.


Some USB drives offer the flexibility of attaching a key chain loop around them for mobility.
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USB flash drives combined the convenience of USB connectivity with the safety of flash memory. Since the invention of the USB flash drive, the devices have been used for personal backup, system administration, increased software mobility and to create bootable flash drives for the purposes of quickly launching or running an operating system on a computer.


USB flash drives retain their memory even when unplugged.
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EE Times states in Dov Moran's profile that 51 million USB flash drives were sold in 2004, clearly indicating the quick spread and acceptance of the combining of two technologies. Since the device uses flash memory, it does not require power to retain its data. This allows USB flash drives to be stored and used for important documents and backup.

Time Frame

USB flash drives are sold all around the world.
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Since the original concept creation in 1998, the USB flash drive has been introduced into markets around the world. In 2000, M-Systems officially entered the market with its DiskOnKey product while other companies entered the market around the same time. The first USB flash drives that used USB 2.0 were introduced a few years later.


Trek Technology was awarded a patent for the device that was later struck down.
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While Dov Moran is widely accepted as the inventor of the USB flash drive, there is controversy surrounding the device. Since the USB flash drive is a combination of older technologies, the development of the technologies that made the USB flash drive possible was distributed across several companies. According to Netac Technology's website, the company invented the first USB flash drive in 1999 and was awarded a patent in Singapore in 2007 regarding the management of data on USB flash drives. Trek Technology also held patents for the device, but according to the UK Intellectual Property Office, Trek Technology's patents were struck down in 2006.