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What is SmartMedia™?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen

SmartMedia™ was a flash memory format that was created as a replacement for floppy disks, which were commonly used by computer users in the 1980s and 1990s. Introduced in 1995, this type of flash memory card was designed specifically to compete with other similar types of flash memory and to replace floppy disks by being both smaller and capable of storing more data. Though this storage format was quite popular for a time, certain limitations inherent in its design ultimately led to a decline in popularity and the rise of other competing formats. SmartMedia™ has since gone out of production and other types of flash memory have become standard for manufacturers of mobile phones and portable media players.

Created and owned by Toshiba™, SmartMedia™ was introduced in 1995 as a replacement for floppy disks and an alternative to several other forms of flash memory available at the time. Flash memory typically consists of a single device, usually small in size, which can be inserted into a computer as a form of portable storage. The SmartMedia™ cards were significantly smaller than floppy disks and also quite a bit smaller than other competing forms of flash memory at the time. Due to the size of the cards, they were quite popular for use in early digital cameras and similar devices.

SmartMedia was intended as a replacement for floppy disks.
SmartMedia was intended as a replacement for floppy disks.

A SmartMedia™ card was typically accessed by removing it from a phone and inserting it into a reader that was connected to a computer. Though the cards were quite popular in the early 2000s, other forms of flash memory for cameras and similar devices were developed around the same time; formats such as “Extreme Digital” (xD) ultimately came to replace the SmartMedia™ format. This happened primarily because of a major design flaw in Toshiba's™ storage format.

When they were developed, these cards were intended as replacements for floppy disks by providing greater storage, up to 128 Megabytes (MB), in a much smaller size. These cards never surpassed the 128 MB size due to the way in which they were initially designed. Other formats, however, that were developed after SmartMedia™ were designed to provide much greater storage capability.

Since SmartMedia™ was principally designed to compete with floppy disks, there was a lack of foresight regarding future competing formats and the need for greater storage ability. This, ultimately, resulted in other formats that offered more storage to become far more popular and ultimately take over the market. As a result, these cards are no longer manufactured, and newer forms of media storage are now used in cameras, phones, and other devices.

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    • SmartMedia was intended as a replacement for floppy disks.
      By: sdubrov
      SmartMedia was intended as a replacement for floppy disks.