My first camera used SmartMedia, and the largest supported card size was 32MB.
At that time, I used a printer port card reader with Windows NT. The transfer
rate was not thrilling, but faster than the serial connection of the camera.
And I did not have to use that awful camera software.
My second camera used CompactFlash, so I decided to get a proper SCSI SmartMedia and PCMCIA-ATA reader. I was very disappointed by the poor transfer rate of about 1.2MB/s, but at least it worked properly.
Then I decided to get an IBM ThinkPad X30 as my "mobile darkroom". It had a dedicated CF slot, but once again I was diappointed by the poor transfer rate of about 1.4MB/s. But at least I did not have to deal with a CF to PCMCIA adapter.
In summer 2003 I was on a 3-day photo adventure and it took me more than one hour to download the 5GB image data. This is a waste of precious time if you have a total of 14 hours to get ready for the next day. This was the point where I decided that it is time for a change.
I read about big differences in transfer rates between the different USB 2.0 card
readers and finally found a reseller for a card reader that was said to be fast.
But I only received a replacement item which performed at 2.5MB/s, so I
decided to return it after a few tests.
The second time I had more luck and picked a reader that performed at 4.6MB/s with the cards I had. That reduced the download time to about 20 minutes for 5GB. That saved about one hour for downloading all the cards I had at that time.
After I bought a new and faster card, I noticed that the transfer rate did not increase as much as I expected, so I decided to investigate...