M-Systems Patents USB Flash Drive
M-Systems' USB flash drive revolutionized portable data storage.

April 5, 1999

Kfar Saba-based M-Systems files a U.S. patent application for the USB flash drive, which has a storage capacity of 8 megabytes, five times the memory of most floppy disks at the time. M-Systems is officially granted its patent Nov. 14, 2000.

M-Systems accelerates the USB drives’ access to the U.S. market by first selling them to IBM, which resells them under its own brand beginning Dec. 15, 2000. IBM has long looked to Israel for innovation and research and development; it established the IBM Israel Scientific Center in 1972.

M-Systems was founded in 1989 by Dov Moran and patented the first flash drive, known as DiskOnChip, in 1995. The USB flash drive, initially marketed as DiskOnKey, enables the flash drive to use the USB port that has become standard on computers for connecting external devices. The light, portable USB flash drives help eliminate the use of floppy disks. Their performance has improved the past two decades to store up to 2 terabytes, deliver up to 100,000 write/erase cycles and last up to 100 years, while the price of the drives has steadily decreased.

M-Systems enters a strategic agreement with competitor SanDisk in 2004 to develop new USB drive platforms, and SanDisk acquires M-Systems in 2006 in an all-stock deal valued at $1.55 billion.