View Full Version : Oldest flash drive computer?

April 30th, 2009, 06:01 AM
Here is a question for the technical history buffs. What is the oldest/first computer system to implement a flash drive to manage and store information in "files" without needing an on board hard disk or floppy controller? It seems to me that many older computers had EEPROM's but were there any that could be said to have a true read/write file allocation capability?


April 30th, 2009, 06:58 AM
Hi Ya,

My late 1970's Nascom 1 computer had a Static Ram board that had a battery backup system on it (i think it was 32K) and it would work a bit like a flash drive. It could be written to dynamically, and read as normal memory, but would hold all information stored on the board if the computer was turned off.
When everything was switched back on everything was still accesible on the card as though nothing happened - Just like a memory stick / flash drive.
You could even unplug the card from the Backplane and nothing was lost.
Hope this of interest.


April 30th, 2009, 07:04 AM
Here's what the CMOS Static ram card looked like....


In case you're interested.


April 30th, 2009, 07:31 AM
Well, here's what I got to offer:
Just flash, right, not other forms of ssd's like bubble memory, and I'll assume you mean true r/w capability.

Flash was commercially available around '89-'90, having been invented in '84. The first PCMCIA standard appeared around '90, before that there was sort of a mish-mash of JEDEC standard & various proprietary slots.
The earliest stuff I know of are the PSION's. the HC-120, which were introduced in '91, which had on-board flash acting as ROM, and slots for flash SSD's. The same year the Series 3 was introduced, which also had slots for flash SSD's. HP's 95LX also appeared in '91 and supported PCMCIA (sort of) and a JEDEC standard, but I'm unsure if it worked with flash cards or not, or if there were any PCMCIA or JEDEC flash cards available at that time.

The HP Omnibook 300, appearing in '93, had no hard drive, and relied on PCMCIA flash cards for mass storage.

Sinclair's post-Sinclair company developed something called a WaferStack, while I don't think it was true flash, was similar. A high-reliability systems manufacturer called Tandem offered these in some of there mid-'90 systems, unfortunately I can't recall a model. Not sure if you want to count "almot-flash" and "sort-of industrial computer" anyway.

If you include other forms of SSD's, then the picture changes.

If anyone has a PSION HC-120 they don't want, by the way, I don't have one and would like one.