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What is a Memory Stick?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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Memory sticks are handy devices that can be used to copy and store data from computer hard drives. Developed as an alternative data storage method to the 3.5 diskettes that once were common modes of storing information, the memory stick was the brainchild of Sony Corporation. Over time, the concept was licensed to a number of other companies that produce computer-related equipment.

In its earliest incarnations, the memory stick was understood to be a quick and easy way to store larger files than could be accommodated with the older diskettes. The actual size of the original memory sticks has been described as similar to that of a flat AA battery, and the memory capacity was anywhere from four to ten times that of the standard diskette. When the first sticks came out in 1998, some of the higher end ones had a data storage capacity that was equal to many of the computer memory capacities.

Earlier versions of the memory stick were equipped with a ten-pin connector setup that continues to be the standard today. Sony placed a special slot on their line of Vaio laptops that were especially configured to accommodate the memory stick design. However, adapters were soon developed that allowed the memory stick to function with any laptop that contained a PC card. The device was touted as a much simpler means of storing large data files than the relatively bulky flash memory devices of the day.

Over the years, memory sticks have continued to evolve. Newer releases of the stick allowed the device to keep pace with the increased demand for music and video files, and other types of data storage that have become commonplace. As recently as 2006, Sony actively worked with others to release a smaller version of the memory stick that included a detachable adapter and featured a capacity for storage that far exceeds the original design.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including EasyTechJunkie, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

By anon166586 — On Apr 09, 2011

how do I download or copy data from my computer onto my memory stick once its plugged in (the stick)?

By anon120204 — On Oct 20, 2010

@ number 2: Yes it will, but obviously you have to put the files onto the memory stick before you put it into the other computer.

By anon104079 — On Aug 14, 2010

Can I use a memory stick as a back-up system for gmail?

By anon19183 — On Oct 07, 2008

Memory stick is the best and easiest way to save all your files and bring them on your pocket. It's amazing!

By mdt — On Aug 31, 2008

I've never tried to execute an application from a memory stick before; I may give it a try and see what happens.

As for moving files from one computer to another - I use my memory stick for that frequently. However, I have to copy the file from its original location onto the memory stick - it does not automatically copy every file I have on my hard drive. Thus, the only files you can move from one computer to another are the ones you manually copy to the memory stick.

By anon17506 — On Aug 31, 2008

Lets say i have two computers... i want to take the memory stick out of one and put it in the other.... will it then have all the files from the other computer

By RossSCann — On Aug 07, 2008

Do USB 2 flash drives allow the user to store applications on the drive which can then be executed from the drive? Thanks for your help.

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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