Definition

PCMCIA card

A PCMCIA card is a credit card-size memory or I/O device that connects to a personal computer, usually a notebook or laptop computer. Probably the most common example of a PCMCIA card is the 28.8 Kbps modem for notebook computers.

The Personal Computer Memory Card International Association was organized in 1989 to promote standards for both memory and I/O integrated circuit cards. The PCMCIA 2.1 Standard was published in 1993. As a result, PC users can be assured of standard attachments for any peripheral device that follows the standard.

A PCMCIA card has a 68-pin connector that connects into a slot in the PC. There are three sizes (or "Types") of PCMCIA cards:

Type Thickness (mm) Typical use
I 3.3 Memory
II 5.0 Modems, LANs. SCSI, sound
III 10.5 ATA hard drive

The Type I and II cards work in a Type III slot and a Type I card will work in a Type II slot. (On the other hand, the thicker cards can't be fitted into the slots for the thinner cards.)

The PCMCIA standard is most commonly applied to portable PCs but it can also be used on desktop computers. The PCMCIA card is not to be confused with another credit-size electronic card, the smart card.

This was last updated in April 2005
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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