PCMCIA form factor

Why it's important:
  • Standard defines the 1.8 inch HDD form factor used in iPods and consumer portable electronic devices
  • A universal interface standard for laptops, supporting memory (all kinds), modems, wireless, other devices
  • Smaller than 2.5" HDD, more suitable for miniature devices, more capacity than 1" microdrive.

PCMCIA is shorthand for "Personal Computer Memory Card International Association", founded in 1989 to establish standards for interchange of devices for laptops. Originally the 68 pin socket and I/O definitions were focused on IC memory cards, but the standard was soon used for HDD and other general purpose devices. Nearly all laptops have one or two externally accessible slots for PCMCIA devices, allowing the laptop user to upgrade without need to refurbish or replace the basic computer system.

The PCMCIA standards were later used in a host of non-computer devices; including PDA, cameras (Kodak DCS-300 series), and Apple 20-30GB iPods. As a HDD form factor it is more widely adopted than the 1" "Microdrive" due to much greater storage capacity

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