How a Flat Computer Battery Led to Millions of Bytes on a Key Chain

Throughout history, many vitally important aids to living have been created as a result of an accident, a mistake, a laboratory experiment gone wrong . . . or a seemingly insurmountable problem just waiting for a solution.

And so it was with the invention and development of one of the most important computer peripheral devices used by millions of people worldwide: the USB Flash Drive ®

It was in 1988 that Dov Moran, then a young Israeli computer engineer participating in a seminar in New York, found that because he hadn’t closed his laptop computer properly, the battery had run out and his entire presentation and notes had been lost – just minutes before he was due to start!

“After that horrible experience I swore never again to be left without backup . . . ” and so he went on to develop what has become the world standard external storage, back up and data transfer computer device, the USB Flash Drive.

The company which Dov Moran founded back in 1989 was called M-Systems which developed flash based data storage devices in the days that flash was a very new and unique memory component. The company brought to the market the fastest PCMCIA Card, the DiskOnChip (flash used as hard drive), the USB Flash Drive, which first hit the market in 2000 and various other products.

Back then, in 2000, the USB Flash Drive had capacities of 8, 16, 32 and then 128 MBs. It was marketed as a hard disk on a keychain and was considered nothing short of revolutionary. In an article in “Bjorn3D” on-line magazine written in 2002, author Tim Stetzer asked:

“Are the days of the floppy drive doomed?” His conclusion was a resounding “Yes”! And that has largely turned out to be the case. Today, the USB Flash Drive is available with drives of 256GB capacity. Larger drives with 512GB, 1terabyte and even 2 terabytes drives are in planning, with steady improvements in size and price per capacity expected.

As M-Systems then described its star product: “USB Flash Drive is a personal, portable, and reliable flash storage device that could fit onto a key chain or in your pocket. Containing an onboard CPU the USB Flash Drive is driverless and allows computer users to save music, store Word documents, pictures, graphics or virtually anything that could be saved on a computer.”

By 2006, 18 years after being established, M-system had grown to a company with a $1B annual turnover in USB Flash Drive and other products sales. That was when M-Systems was acquired by former rival and by then, strategic partner, California-based SanDisk Inc. in an all stock transaction worth $1.6 billion.

The USB Flash Drive was recently voted one of Time Magazine’s 100 greatest and most influential gadgets from 1923 to the present.

Since selling M-Systems, Dov Moran has become involved in a number of other business and institutional ventures.

He is the chairman of Biomas, a developer of innovative pharmaceuticals. Previous to that, he was also chairman of Tower Semiconductor, a leading developer and manufacturer of semiconductors and integrated circuits for the electronics industry. Mr. Moran was the founder and chairman of modu, which invented a modular cellular telephone that can be integrated to a variety of other devices. He recently launched a new educational initiative that distributed interactive tablets, replacing notebooks and textbooks, in Israeli schools.

Another innovative company he recently established is KeyView, which develops a unique keyboard with an embedded display. The KeyView keyboard shows users what they are typing, when they are typing it, right on the keyboard itself. This innovative device eliminates the need to switch eye-focus back-and-fourth from the screen to the keyboard and provides a better and faster typing experience.

His latest business venture is a new start-up named Comigo, which develops a TV platform that aims to extend viewing options across all types of handheld devices, providing new personalization and interactive socialization capabilities for TV viewers. Comigo is expected to distribute its products at 2H 2012.

Dov Moran
Comigo TV platform
Kfar Saba/Israel