USB is a common type of connector and host controller for communicating between devices, mostly between computers or laptops and other devices, such as printers, mp3 players, thumb drives, keyboards, and mice. USB stands for Universal Serial Bus, and was designed as a replacement for earlier technologies such as serial and parallel ports. In recent years, there has been more of a distinction between USB 1.0, USB 2.0, and even USB 3.0, possibly causing confusion for those who don’t understand the difference.
USB 1.0 is the original iteration, which was frequently referred to as simply “USB”. The USB 1.0 technology was developed by seven companies: Nortel, DEC, Compaq, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and NEC. It was first introduced in 1996, and was devised as a way to standardize a protocol for connecting multiple devices, getting rid of the need for multiple types of connectors and also allowing more bandwidth for devices, as USB cables were able to transfer up to 12 Mbps, which was much faster than any previous protocols. This made it a feasible way to connect hard disk drives and other devices that required high data transfer speeds to operate correctly.
USB 2.0 was released in 2000 as an improvement to the USB specification. It boasted speeds of up to 480 Mbps, which was a huge improvement over the original speeds of USB 1.0. USB 2.0 became very popular and is still the most popular connection type for peripherals in use today as of this writing. Most computers and laptops include at least two USB 2.0 ports, and some include even more, owing to the increasing need for more ports to connect users’ devices.
USB 3.0 was announced in November of 2008, and is yet another improvement on the original protocol. USB 3.0 products are only recently coming to the market, but it looks to be a big improvement in speed, as it can theoretically reach speeds up to 4 Gbps, which is faster than the limitation of most hard drives.
While USB has been around for many years, its continued improvement and refinement means it will likely be around for many more. The promise of very fast transfer rates for USB 3.0 mean that it could replace virtually every connection on a computer or laptop.