smartmedia1The SmartMedia Card was created by Toshiba and released on the consumer market in 1995. This was one of the first memory cards created and it ushered in the new era of data storage. During that time period, the storage devices that were commonly used were 3.5 inch floppy diskettes. Smart Media cards measured 45.0 x 37.0 x 0.76mm


SmartMedia Cards are flash memory and this means that they can store their data without the use of electric power. The SmartMedia card uses a NAND-type memory a flash memory chip that was created and developed by Toshiba. This type of flash memory is used primarily for the storage of data. The structure of NAND memory is very simple and this is based on how the memory cells are set.


Types of SmartMedia Card


When it first came on the market, SmartMedia cards were released in sizes that would be considered laughable by today’s standards. The sizes vary from 2mb, 4mb, 8mb, 16mb, 32mb, 64mb, and 128mb. Years ago those sizes were a huge advancement, now only the 64mb and 128mb hold any value in today’s size standards.


SmartMedia memory cards aside from size also come in two different voltages. There are 5 V and 3.3 V cards and this is related to the cards main supply voltages. 3.3V cards are the standard, but before many older devices used the 5V version of the card. To help protect 3.3V cards from being permanently damaged from devices that use 5V a mechanical voltage detector was developed. This would make it impossible for 3.3V to be placed in 5V devices. Many of the newer devices that use SmartMedia cards are backward compatible. This means they are able to use both 5V and 3.3V with no problem.

Uses of the SmartMedia Card


SmartMedia memory cards have been around since 1995 and with a lifespan well over a decade the cards can be used in a wide variety of digital devices. As a replacement to floppy diskettes their primary goal was to store and transfer data. Technology that incorporated the SmartMedia card was being developed and the role of the SmartMedia card was changed. Pictures taken with a digital camera could now be stored on a small portable storage device. With multiple card sizes it allowed different cards to be used for many uses.


Fast forward to 21st century and the SmartMedia card is still being used as storage media for many different storage devices. SmartMedia can be used in various digital music players, digital cameras, PDA’s and a slew of other digital devices. SmartMedia cards can also be used with many other device slots as long as the appropriate adapter is available. It can be used in PCMIA, Compact Flash and 3.5″ inch floppy slots once the corresponding adapter is used. This once again increases its multiuse capability.


The future of SmartMedia media looks bleak as newer and more advanced storage devices have been developed and are currently enjoying the market that SmatMedia cards once dominated. During the early 2000’s SmartMedia cards dominated in the digital camera market. It had backing from major camera manufacturers Fuji and Olympus, however problems began to develop. One problem was the fact that the biggest SmartMedia Card is 128 MB. With today’s memory demand 128MB is a drop in the bucket and with no plans to increase storage size, the memory will stay stagnant at its current size. Another problem was digital devices were getting smaller every single year. With SmartMedia cards staying at the same size, the card was becoming too big for the shrinking devices. The size problem of both its physical dimensions and storage capacity was expanded when Fuji and Olympus switched to the smaller and higher capacity xD Picture Card. With the digital camera sector gone Smart Media cards lost their market share.


Specifications of SmartMedia Card

Known Names

SmartMedia cards are also known as Smart Media memory cards. Many people affix the space between the words. The card goes by both names

Storage Size

  • 2mb, 4mb, 8mb, 16mb, 32mb, 64mb and 128mb

Transfer Speed


  • Maximum write speed: 2.1 MB/s
  • Maximum read speed: 2.1 MB/s
  • 14 X
  • 14 X

Physical Dimensions


  • Millimeters: 45.0 mm (W) × 37.0 mm (H) × 0.76 mm (D)
  • Inches: 1.77 (W) x 1.46 (H) x  .03 (D)


  • 2 Grams



  • 3.3V
  • 5 V

Copyright Protection


  • No

Write Protection


  • Yes



  • Olympus SmartMedia card supports the Panorama function
  • Compatible 3.5″ Floppy drive using FlashPath adapter
  • Compatible with PCMCIA with an adapter
  • Compatible with CompactFlash Type II with an adapter




  • SmartMedia is now outdated
  • More expensive
  • Limited in sizes up to 128MB
  • 5V might not work in some cameras
  • Inserting a 3.3V card into a 5V only device may cause permanent damage
  • SmartMedia cards aren’t as sturdy as the other formats, and so require more careful handling and storage.

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