Fujio Masuoka: Inventor of Flash Memory | The Cyber Daily


Flash memory is a term that applies to two types of chips — the NAND and the NOR. The NAND is used in: memory cards, USB flash drives, solid-state drives, and more. Both NOR and NAND types were invented by Dr. Fujio Masuoka around 1980.

Examples of both types of flash memory include: personal computers, PDAs, digital audio players, digital cameras, mobile phones, synthesizers, video games, scientific instrumentation, industrial robotics, and medical electronics.

Flash memory turned out to be one of the greatest inventions of the 1980′s. According to a Forbes report, approximately $76 billion of these chips were sold in 2001 alone. According to BusinessWeek, flash memory sales hit around $25 billion in 2006 alone. While these figures may not be totally accurate, it gives us a good idea how important this invention was.

Toshiba and Samsung have been two of the world’s top flash memory producers.

At the time Fujio Masuoka had discovered flash memory, he was working for Toshiba. However, because he lived in Japan and worked for a powerful company, he didn’t get the full credit that was due.

In fact, company members were so embarrassed about the deal, they told Forbes Global that Toshiba was not the inventor of flash memory. The PR staff at Toshiba claimed Intel invented flash memory. Of course, this would later prove to be a false assertion.

While the engineers at Toshiba failed to understand the foresight of Masuoka’s invention, the team at Intel did recognize its potential. Intel immediately acted upon that potential. Intel introduced the NOR chip in 1988; Toshiba introduced the NAND type chip in 1989.

Masuoka had been working on DRAM when he came across his discovery in the early 1980′s. It was the year of 1984 when he would announce his invention, during an IEEE meeting in San Francisco, California.

Dr. Masuoka eventually got promoted to the head of a department, but he would leave Toshiba in 1994. Masuoka later became a professor at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan.

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