Pen drives, also called USB drives, flash drives, jump drives and thumb drives, were introduced in 1999 and began to be sold commercially the following year. A pen drive is a device for storing data and plugs into a USB port on a computer.
Who created the first pen drive is still under dispute, but according to Linkyo Insights, most people credit M-Systems Company, which was eventually sold to Sandisk. The first generation of pen drives had a storage capacity of 8 megabytes, which was about five times greater than the floppy disk, a common data-storage technology of the time. By 2003, M-Systems and other manufacturers were selling 64-megabyte versions of pen drives. Shortly after that, 128-megabyte pen drives became available, which is when pen drives gained popularity and became standard equipment for most computer users. Storage capacity doubled for a few years so that by 2013, pen drives with storage capacities of 512 gigabtyes and 1 terabyte were common.
File transfer speeds have also improved since the introduction of the pen drive in 2000. Pen drives using USB 1.1 technology have a maximum transfer speed of about 1 megabyte per second. Pen drives using USB 2.0 technology are about 20 times faster than those using USB 1.1. USB 3.0 is the standard in 2014 and is about 100 times faster than USB 2.0.