November 1918: The First World War Ends

The war began the industrial revolution of warfare, of which the single most important development was the synthesis of ammonia

2 min read
Photo-illustration: Stuart Bradford
Photo-illustration: Stuart Bradford

illustrationPhoto-illustration: Stuart Bradford

Few 100-year anniversaries resonatesoloudly as November’s marking of the end of the world’s first truly global armed conflict. The war’s unspeakable carnage scarred the memory of a generation, but its most tragic legacy was the resulting Communist rule in Russia (1917), Fascist rule in Italy (1922), and Nazi rule in Germany (1933). Those developments led to the Second World War, which killed even more people and left direct and indirect legacies—including NATO vs. Russia and a divided Korea—that still trouble our lives.

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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

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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