One of the most recognizable and copied consumer products of the twentieth century has been updated to twenty-first-century functionality. The venerable Swiss Army Knife– the all-purpose pocket tool that comes with everything from a corkscrew to a toothpick–now offers the choice of a 64MB or 128MB USB memory stick as one of its “blades”. Victorinox, which registered the original Swiss Army Knife in 1897, has brought out the SwissMemory, “for computer users on the move.” (Picture/link of the SwissMemory is at the bottom right of the Victorinox website homepage.)
The SwissMemory is a harbinger of things to come. It’s a real trendsetter because it tells us that the concept of carrying data with us has hit mainstream. Twenty-three years ago the first IBM PCs went on sale. Now pocketknives carry around more memory than most of the first PC users ever dreamed of having available in their desktop boxes.
As data portability becomes both ubiquitous and invisible, new markets for devices that carry it and for purposes to use it will appear. Sure memory sticks have been around for a while, but not as long as the Swiss Army Knife. At first glance, the impact of mating the two may seem like a gimmicky product enhancement that will sell a few more pocketknives. But the real impact of such a tool is to tell us how important portable memory is becoming, and to wake us up to its use potential.