We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a PCMCIA Network Adapter?

By Kurt Inman
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A PCMCIA network adapter is a network interface which plugs into a PCMCIA bus slot on a computer. It may be a wireless network adapter or a wired one with an external cable for the network connection. Ethernet is the most common network technology implemented in these adapters. They are often used with laptops to upgrade built-in network interfaces to the latest technology. They may also be used with other portable computing devices that have PCMCIA slots, such as notebooks and netbooks.

PCMCIA stands for Personal Computer Memory Card International Association. It is the non-profit trade association which developed the initial standards for PCMCIA peripheral cards. In 1990, the first PCMCIA specification was released specifically for flash memory cards. This 16-bit technology was known as PC Card™ and supported two form factors, known as Type 1 and Type 2 cards. Type 3 cards were introduced in late 1992, and the technology shifted to a 32-bit bus master interface called CardBus® in 1995.

The Type 2 and Type 3 specifications provided enough functionality to support a PCMCIA network adapter. Several 10/100 Megabit per second (Mbps) Ethernet PCMCIA adapters were released by vendors during the 1990s. Network bandwidth was often limited by the bus speed of both PC Card™ and CardBus® implementations, however. Many laptops included both CardBus® and PC Card™ slots as the standards evolved. Both standards were generally supported by all of the major portable computer operating systems.

In the mid-2000s, a new PCMCIA specification emerged called ExpressCard®. This standard included benefits of both Universal Serial Bus (USB) and Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI™) bus technology. By 2008, a large number of new laptops and notebooks were being shipped with ExpressCard® slots instead of CardBus®. Its performance increase allowed the development of a PCMCIA network adapter for Gigabit Ethernet technology. Many ExpressCard® wireless adapters have been produced as well.

Version 2.0 of the PCMCIA ExpressCard® standard was released in early 2009. This specification is no longer compatible with CardBus® or PC Card™. It is based completely on USB and PCI Express® technology, providing higher performance than Version 1.0. At least one vendor in late 2009 announced a PCMCIA network adapter for fiber-based Gigabit Ethernet. The same vendor also provides a fiber-based 100 Mbps network adapter for the ExpressCard® bus. Both standard form factors allow ExpressCard® devices to be inserted and removed at will while powered up and active.

The non-profit USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) was significantly involved in the creation of the ExpressCard® standard. As the compliance and support organization for USB technology, it acquired PCMCIA and its technologies in early 2010. The integration of these technologies should help streamline the portable computer peripheral development process. As a result of the acquisition, the name PCMCIA will no longer be attached to products.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.