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How NASA Recruited Snoopy and Drafted Barbie

The space agency has long relied on kid-friendly mascots to make the case for space

5 min read
Photo of Snoopy as a semi-official NASA mascot.
The Beagle Has Landed: The popular comic-strip dog Snoopy became a safety mascot for NASA in 1968.
Photo: Collections of The Henry Ford

In the comic-strip universe of Peanuts, Snoopy beat Neil Armstrong to the moon. It was in March 1969—four months before Armstrong would take his famous small step—that the intrepid astrobeagle and his flying doghouse touched down on the lunar surface. “I beat the Russians…I beat everybody,” Snoopy marveled. “I even beat that stupid cat who lives next door!”

The comic-strip dog had begun a formal partnership with NASA the previous year, when Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, and its distributor United Feature Syndicate, agreed to the use of Snoopy as a semi-official NASA mascot.

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Who Really Invented the Thumb Drive?

Thumb drive, USB drive, memory stick: Whatever you call it, it’s the brainchild of an unsung Singapore inventor

11 min read
Three monolithic thumb drives stand in a white landscape with blue sky and clouds behind them.
Maurizio Di Iorio
Blue

In 2000, at a trade fair in Germany, an obscure Singapore company called Trek 2000 unveiled a solid-state memory chip encased in plastic and attached to a Universal Serial Bus (USB) connector. The gadget, roughly the size of a pack of chewing gum, held 8 megabytes of data and required no external power source, drawing power directly from a computer when connected. It was called the ThumbDrive.

That device, now known by a variety of names—including memory stick, USB stick, flash drive, as well as thumb drive—changed the way computer files are stored and transferred. Today it is familiar worldwide.

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