Memories about memory cards

What do you know about memory cards, their history and evolution?

In today’s ‘smart’ world so much of what we do relies on data. As technology has evolved, demand for memory has grown. The need to store and process data is nothing new though, and here we take a brief look back at the history of memory cards…


The first time that data was stored on a card, back then it was a simple punch card which was used to automate a drawloom for weaving fabric/tapestries.


Punch cards were used in the Holleirth Electric Tabulating System (described as being an electro-mechanical excel). Holleirth later started the company which ultimately became the foundation of IBM.


Considered back then to be the first commercial desktop computer (we’d say it was a rather large calculator), the Olivetti Programma 101 used a long magnetic card to store data and instructions.


The first ever SIM card was developed by Giesecke & Devrient. In the early days SIMs stored only 20 numbers and 5 texts.


Siemens and SanDisk unveiled the first ever MMC (MultiMedia card). Unsurprisingly the first mobile to support the removable MMC was the Siemens SL45.


Sony launched the Memory Stick, used in a range of Sony products including digital cameras, PCs, the PlayStation Portable (PSP) and mobile phones. Sony’s version of a microSD, the Memory Stick Micro (M2), followed. Memory Stick adoption outside of Sony was low, with other manufacturers favouring SD cards. By 2010 all Sony products had switched to SD cards.


The new millennium saw the advent of the first Secure Digital (SD) card, a collaboration between compliments of SanDisk, Matsushita (Panasonic) and Toshiba.

Whilst MMC and SD cards were electrically compatible, the latter was half a millimetre thicker, meaning SD cards wouldn’t fit into devices with MMC slots. As a result, MMC and SD cards co-existed for a time, but in the long run only SD cards, along with microSD (2005) and miniSD (2003) cards, survived.


RS-MMC (Reduced Size MMC) were introduced, with Nokia being an early adopter.

Whilst you no longer see removable MMCs, the standard lives on in an embedded format (eMMC), favoured for cheaper mobile phones.


The Universal Flash Storage (UFS) was announced by JEDEC. The aim of this new specification being to bring higher data transfer speed and increased reliability to flash memory storage, while reducing market confusion and removing the need for different adapters for different types of card.

Samsung invented 3D NAND, technology that would revolutionise the data storage industry.


Samsung launched the first UFS cards and UFS/microSD hybrid slots, but despite offering some performance advantages over SD, SD cards remain the memory card of choice for consumers and manufacturers.


The A2 application performance class is released by the SD Association.


The SD Association announced the new SD Express, a new standard which offers enhanced read/write speeds thanks to the implementation of NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) for SD cards. Hopes are that NVMe will come to microSD cards sooner rather than later.

Flash memory is a complex subject and selecting the right memory for your application requires knowledge and expertise. This is where Cardwave can really help.

With more than a decade’s experience in the flash memory sector, Cardwave prides itself in working collaboratively with both memory manufacturers and customers to deliver end-to-end solutions. We don’t simply supply memory, we are trusted advisors, committed to providing you with a complete solution that meets, if not exceeds, your requirements.

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