Pen Drive – History and Facts | How does it Work?

The pen drive is a portable flash memory solution designed to transport data files from one computer to another.

The product can carry audio, video, and data files and is brilliantly simple; all the user has to do is plug the pen drive into a computer`s USB port, drag and drop the necessary files from the hard drive, remove them, and plug it into another machine.

Durable, portable, and scratch-resistant, the pen drive is a marked improvement on previous data transportation devices, such as the CD and floppy disc, and a source of constant relief and graduation for millions of people the world over.

Different types of pen drives

Standard USB Drive: This is the most common type of pen drive that most people are familiar with. It plugs into a USB port and is compatible with most computers and laptops.

Micro USB Drive: These are smaller than standard USB drives and are commonly used with smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.

Lightning USB Drive: These are designed for Apple devices such as iPhones and iPads, which have a Lightning port instead of a standard USB port.

USB Type-C Drive: These are designed for use with devices with a USB Type-C port, which is becoming more common in newer smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

Wireless USB Drive: These pen drives can connect to devices wirelessly and can be accessed from multiple devices without needing a physical connection.

Secure USB Drive: These pen drives have built-in security features such as password protection and encryption to keep data secure.

The history

Pen drives first appeared in the late 1990s, when people were looking for more convenient transfer and storage methods. Before the advent of pen drives, only floppy discs, CDs, and DVDs could be used to store and transport data. Inadequate capacity, susceptibility to damage, and the need for specialised hardware make these storage devices unsuitable for long-term use.

In the year 2000, IBM released the first commercially available flash drive. The “DiskOnKey” came from the Israeli firm M-Systems. The DiskOnKey could hold up to 8MB of information and was very convenient to carry around. It was USB-compatible, meaning it could be used with both Windows and Mac computers.

The popularity of the DiskOnKey prompted the creation of flash drives with even more space. The 256MB SanDisk pen drive that was released in 2003 was a huge step up over the original 16MB DiskOnKey.

Pen drives have seen constant development and improvement throughout the years. Drives shrank in size while simultaneously increasing their storage capabilities. The introduction of USB 3.0 technology greatly accelerated the rate at which information could be sent.

woman plugging a usb flash drive into her laptop
Woman plugging a USB drive into her laptop, technology and data storage concept

USB flash drives have become an indispensable data storage and transport medium. They have many applications in both private and professional settings, and they come in a wide range of sizes and styles to accommodate individual tastes and requirements. The evolution of pen drives exemplifies the necessity of technological progress and the value of new ideas in satisfying human wants.

How it works

Each pen drive comprises a tiny printed circuit board (or PCB) to store data, a USB connector, and a NAND flash memory chip using multicell-level technology; this groundbreaking solution was first developed by SanDisk and Toshiba in 2005. The constituent technologies are encased within a tough outer shell, manufactured in metal, rubber, or plastic. The USB connector may be sheathed in an outer cap or protected by a retractable strip, allowing the user to withdraw the connector when not in use.

The name pen drive is an anachronism; drives typically rely on mechanical systems, but this little gem does not. The term drive remains a vestibular nod to the past because computers read and write flash-drive data using the same system commands as a mechanical disc drive, with the storage appearing to the computer operating system and user interface as just another drive.

Also Read: फ्लैश मेमोरी का आविष्कार | Discovery of Flash Memory


The USB flash drive has developed from a gimmick for the tech-savvy into a necessity for anybody who uses a computer. More and more people are finding good reasons to use a pen drive, and this popularity has been bolstered by the exponential growth in storage capacity since the first generation of these devices could hold only 8MB. These days, you can buy a pen drive with a capacity of 128GB if you’re willing to pay a premium.

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Raj Maurya

Raj Maurya is the founder of Digital Gyan. He is a technical content writer on Fiverr and When not working, he plays Valorant.

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