Star Trek TOS was using single handed removable read/write memory media (like the kind William Windom is holding below) before the floppy disk was even invented. Was Star Trek the first, or was a different work of SciFi or Fantasy the first to depict small scale (pocket sized or smaller) removable computer data storage media?

Computer cards Floppy Disk

William Windom (1967) before the invention of 3.5 inch floppies (late 1980's)

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    Note that those objects in Star Trek were called "tapes" or "microtapes", presumably an offshoot of magnetic tapes which existed in the 50s.
    – Izkata
    Jul 21, 2012 at 23:19
  • I vaguely remember something similar in An Unearthly Child to work an instrument that could be called a food replicator, but I'll have to watch the episode again to give a definite answer (which I cannot do today).
    – bitmask
    Jul 22, 2012 at 12:22
  • You might want to include how small you are thinking since reel to reel had been around for a while before Star Trek.
    – BillyNair
    Jul 22, 2012 at 23:26
  • Edited. Thanks :) Jul 23, 2012 at 1:26
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    Was your chief objection the size? If so, what about music-box tumblers, which were (often) the size of a thimble? The program would be (extremely) small... Jul 23, 2012 at 22:01

2 Answers 2


How about E.E. Doc Smith's "platinum alloy discs"?

“Since nothing material was destroyed when the Eddorians were forced into the next plane of existence, their historical records have also become available. Those records - folios and tapes and playable discs of platinum alloy, resistant indefinitely even to Eddore's noxious atmosphere - agree with those of the Arisians upon this point.”

That's 1934 DVDs for you.


This is a stretch, but Isaac Asimov's Foundation had the concept of a "personal capsule" but this was more of a physical, "eyes-only" message on self-destructing tape, not data to be read by a computer (visiplate) per se.

However, this was data separate from things communicated via "ultrawave" which is apparently how most communication occurred.

This was mentioned in "The Traders" which was first published in October 1944 (published collectively as Foundation in 1951).

"…so they sent me out after you with this."

The tiny, gleaming sphere changed hands, and Gorm added, "It's confidential. Super-secret. Can't be trusted to the sub-ether and all that. Or So I gather. At least its a Personal Capsule, and won't open for anyone but you."

Ponyets regarded the capsule…

It opened in his hand and the thin, transparent tape unrolled stiffly. His eyes swept the message quickly, for when the last of the tape had emerged, the first was already brown and crinkled. In a minute and a half it had turned black and, molecule by molecule, fallen apart.

Ponyets grunted hollowly, "Oh, Galaxy!"

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    I believe foundation also had data storage "wires".
    – Jim2B
    Mar 18, 2015 at 2:12
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    @Jim2B Which were a fictionalization of a real technology: wire recording.
    – user41830
    Jun 23, 2015 at 17:51
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    And Asimov's Second Foundation had a small image projector/computer on which the secret society edited their sociohistorical predictions and projected them on a screen.
    – DWin
    Dec 28, 2015 at 22:25

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