Who invented the USB key? We don’t know exactly

Our summer series on the technological innovations that have changed our lives ends with an invention about to celebrate its 20th anniversary, the USB flash drive. An invention whose author is uncertain …

Officially, it is the Israeli entrepreneur Dov Moran who is considered the main inventor of the USB key. It was he who first came up with the idea, in 1998, to manufacture a small removable memory that can be connected directly to the USB port of computers (the USB port itself having appeared a few years earlier, in 1996).

In April 1999, Dov Moran therefore filed a patent in the United States. This patent was officially granted to him on November 14, 2000. His invention is called DiskOnKey, it has a capacity of 8 megabytes. It is connected to a computer using a cable.

Other inventors had the same idea at the same time

However, as is often the case, the authorship of the USB key is disputed by other inventors.

One before the Israeli invention, in 1999, the American Shimon Shmueli, engineer at IBM, also designed a small electronic memory which can be connected directly to computers. The difference is that there is no cable.

That’s not all. A Malaysian, Pua Khein-Seng, also claims the authorship of this innovation. He developed the flash memory which will be used in USB keys and which makes them more solid by replacing the mechanical elements.

Finally, in July 2002, a patent was granted in China to the company China Netac for a product of the same kind.

In a trouser pocket

There would therefore be several inventors for the USB key. Whatever. In 2000, several equivalent products were released from different brands. It’s a small revolution! The USB stick makes it easy to copy and transfer computer data from one computer to another. The USB key slips easily into a trouser pocket.

Even today, USB keys are still widely used. However, they have become the pet peeve of IT managers in companies because they are an excellent means of transmission of computer viruses.

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