Flash Memery – Where Did It Start

So here is a bit of information one could use for a cocktail conversation starter at your next computer club meeting, the start of flash memory. The first piece of flash memory was invented way back in 1984.  Flash was invented by Toshiba and by a guy named Dr. Fujio Masuoka.  According to Toshiba records, the term “flash” was suggested by Dr. Masuoka’s colleague, Mr. Shoji Ariizumi because the erase process of the memory contents reminded him of a flash like in a camera. Toshiba presented the new invention at the IEEE 1984 Integrated Electronics Devices Meeting in San Jose California and Intel saw the immediate value and jumped on board.  By 1988 the first commercial NOR type flash chip was commercially available.

NAND flash Toshiba

NOR based flash has long erase and write times and has a full address/ data interface.  Meaning one can read or write data to any portion of the NOR chip.  The NOR technology is mostly used for low levels of read/write cycles.  So for example, NOR is great for BIOS and firmware of a device.  NOR was the first version of flash, but everyone quickly realized a cheaper, faster solution is also needed. In 1989 the first NAND flash chip was introduced.  It had faster erase and write times, higher density, and lower cost than NOR flash – with ten times the endurance. The draw back with NAND [if you can call it that] is the I/O interface only allowing sequential access to data. Meaning you can only write to the device after the last bit of data has been written.  This makes it suitable for mass-storage devices such as PC cards and various memory cards like USB, SD and microSD, and somewhat less useful for computer memory. Source:  TutorialsWeb.

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