From Paper Tape to Data Sticks: The Evolution of Removable Storage

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 USB Connection

Since 1998 or so, PC users have been living in the USB era. The convenience of USB plug-and-play operation makes every computer user's life easier, and that advantage extends to removable storage as well. Small, portable USB-powered hard drives (lower left) are common today; they hold lots of data and get cheaper every year. Even more popular is today's reigning removable-media champ: the USB thumb drive (introduced in 2000). In coupling flash media's rapidly growing data-storage capability with conveniently small size, the USB key is the format to beat--and it might prove to be the last removable media we'll need.

Photos: Trek/M-Systems/Kingston/Buffalo

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