Flash memory stores and retrieves information more reliably and faster than hard drives. It works similar to RAM but is slower and far less expensive. It is fast, cheap, reliable, and virtually shock-proof.
Fuio Masuoka was a Toshiba employee. He developed a better type of solid-state memory and filed a patent in 1981.
His new chip allowed storage to reliably retain memory even without power.
No sooner did Toshiba release the new chip than Intel created their own and successfully commercialized it. Masuoka sued Intel for patent infringement and won $758,000 in 2006.
Flash memory – first used in thumb drives – today powers computers, phones, servers, and other electronics. In 2019, the global flash memory market was $61 billion.
Eventually, In 2017 Toshiba sold its chip business — primarily the lucrative flash memory business — to private equity firm led by Bain for $17.7 billion. The business was immensely profitable but a cash crunch forced Toshiba to sell.