Flash Drive - Thursday, October 1, 2015

As we wind down our exploration of musical storage devices today, we find ourselves caught in the present.  There is an enduring legacy of the inventions of old - and each holds a special place in our history.  The wax (or plastic) cylinder stands out as the first form of storage.  If you've never seen one, be sure to ask your guide in the Music Room here at the American Treasure Tour to show you one.  Vinyl records surround you - on the walls and in the rafters - and 8-tracks are displayed on the columns, mostly near the music boxes (we didn't even cover those here!). Cassettes and CDs, the two most recent advances in music prior to the download, are not as easy to find on display, but that may be because they're still in our cars as we listen to our favorite Styx album.  Or maybe it is Culture Club, Kajagoogoo, or one of the other New Wave bands that swept through the eighties.

The first USB (Universal Serial Bus - a standardization format) Flash Drive entered the market with the dawn of the new millennium.  We can't pretend to fully understand all the technology that goes into the flash drive, but it serves to store digital information, serving as kind of a microprocessor.  The memory capacity of these devices, that average about the size of an average thumb, is amazing.  When the compact disc first came out around 1980, it held eighty minutes' worth of music.  A flash drive with 32 gigabytes of storage on it can store up to eight thousand songs, and there are flash drives available that can hold 512 gigabytes of memory!  

Some aficionados complain that the compression required to store music on a flash drive decreases its quality, and takes away from the experience of listening to it.  Others refuse to listen to anything digital, and continue to enjoy their records.  But automobile manufacturers have never offered record players in their cars as more than a novelty.  8-track players stopped appearing in cars in the early-1980s.  Cassette players in cars were discontinued right around 2000.  This means that, aside from that strange wonder called radio, the only methods to listen to music in cars today is digitally.  With Flash Drive inputs available in modern cars, it seems likely that CD players will also stop being included in cars soon.  And there will be no more album artwork because there will be nothing tangible connected to music.  

The American Treasure Tour takes great pride in our expansive collection of recorded music - from the sheet music read by musicians in the days before the nickelodeon, to the cylinder, the record, the reel-to-reel, 8-track and cassette, to the compact disc.  If you ever get nostalgic for when you had to go to a music store for the newest albums, come visit us.  You'll see it all here.
QUESTION:  Which company filed the first patent for flash drive technology?
A)  Trek Technology
C)  M-Systems
D)  Dell

WELCOME THE NEW BIG THING!  On this day in 1908, the Model T was first placed on the market by a relative no-name who would soon become one of the most famous people in the world:  Henry Ford.  The car sold that day for $825.  Hardly inexpensive, but still affordable enough for most people to be able to buy one.  It would revolutionize the car industry and change the world.  Of course, no one could have anticipated any of that 107 years ago.

QUOTE:  Quality means doing it right when no one is looking. - Henry Ford

ANSWER:  C)  M-Systems, although IBM contested that their patent of a few months later reflected more accurately what modern flash drives are today.