Not Just a Flash in the Pan
Toshiba invented NAND flash memory in the early 1980s, but the technology didn't gain prominence and plummet in price 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.