Updated: 08/03/2018 by Computer Hope

pataShort for Advanced Technology Attachment, ATA was approved on May 12, 1994, and is an interface that connects hard drives, CD-ROM drives, and other drives. The first ATA interface is now commonly referred to as PATA, which is short for Parallel AT Attachment after the introduction of SATA. Today, almost all home computers use the ATA interface, including Apple computers, which use SATA.

The ATA standard is backward compatible, which means new ATA drives (excluding SATA) can be used with older ATA interfaces. Additionally, any new feature introduced is also found in all future releases. For example, ATA-4 has support for PIO modes 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4, even though these were first introduced in ATA-1 and ATA-2.

Below is a listing of each ATA standard to help provide a better understanding of the history behind this interface and each standards capability.