LITTLE STUFF IS BECOMING A BIG DEAL

We’ve been getting a lot of little flash drives to look at in the past year or so, and every time we see a new one it costs less and does more. The trend is clear.

When SanDisk came out with a 1 gigabyte capacity flash drive a few years ago it had a list price of nearly a thousand dollars. The drives were sometimes calledHandy Drive thumb drives then and were quite the little wonders. Now you can buy a 1 gigabyte flash drive for $10, and people dangle them on their key chains like lucky charms.

We have a new one from US Modular (USmodular.com) that has a built-in flashlight and ballpoint pen, and it sells for only $20. They call it the Handy Drive. There’s a 4 gigabyte model coming out for just a little more.

A flash drive is a set of memory chips that retain their information even when removed from a battery or computer. SanDisk (SanDisk.com) invented these things, but it’s everybody’s ball game now. A recent report informed us that giant chip-maker Intel was going into the business and moving to make hard disk drives a technological curiosity. New laptops, we’re reliably informed, will sport 500 gigabyte flash memory drives.

Unlike hard disk drives, flash drives have no moving parts, they have shock resistance as high as 1,000 times the force of Earth’s gravity, and a power demand that wouldn’t tax a triple-A battery. We will begin to see these things in almost every electrical product made. A few years down the road, some kid will ask, “What’s a hard drive, Daddy?”

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