Short for Universal Serial Bus, USB is a standard that was introduced in 1995 by Intel, Compaq, Microsoft and several other computer companies. USB 1.x is an external bus standard that supports data transfer rates of 12 Mbps and is capable of supporting up to 127 peripheral devices. In the picture to the right, is an example of a USB cable being connected into the USB port.
USB 2.0, also known as hi-speed USB, was developed by Compaq, Hewlett Packard, Intel, Lucent, Microsoft, NECand Philips and was introduced in 2001. Hi-speed USB is capable of supporting a transfer rate of up to 480 Mbps and is backwards compatible, meaning it is capable of supporting USB 1.0 and 1.1 devices and cables.
As of 2012, USB 3.0 is the latest version of the USB protocol. Most new computers feature USB 3.0 ports built-in, offering data transfer speeds of up to 5 gigabits per second. USB 3.0 improved upon the USB 2.0 technology with speed and performance increases, improved power management and increased bandwidth capability (providing two unidirectional data paths for receiving and sending data at the same time).
USB 3.0 devices were first made available in November 2009 by Buffalo Technology, but the first certified devices weren't available until January 2010. The first certified devices included motherboards from ASUS and Gigabyte Technology. Dell began including USB 3.0 ports in their Inspiron and Dell XPS series of computers in April 2011. Today, many devices use the USB 3.0 revision for improved performance and speed, including USB thumb drives, digital cameras, external hard drives, MP3 players, and other devices.
Today, there are millions of different USB devices that can be connected to your computer. Below are just a few of the more common USB devices you'll likely find and use.
- External drive
- iPod or other MP3 player
- Jump drive aka Thumb drive