Whether you use a computer, smartphone, or another internet of Things device, you will inevitably encounter at least one of these ports in your day. According to dictionary.com, and I quote, a USB is “an external serial bus interface standard for connecting peripheral devices to a computer, as in a USB port or USB cable.” The first USB Port originated in 1995 to enable communication between a computer and respective peripheral devices. Thus, eliminating the need for many previous bulky serial and parallel cables.
January 15, 1995, USB 1.0 standard was released, supporting a total speed of (1.5/Mbit/sec ) and a low rate of (1.1 Mbit/sec) in white or black. In August of 1998, the USB 1.1 standard was released, which increased the speed to (12/Mbit/sec). This port was the first generation and could transfer data from keyboards, mice, and gamepads. USB 1.1 was starting to become popular, but it was not until 1998 that USB devices became part of manufacturing machines.
Connecting personal home devices and business machines was a snap, thanks to this new invention that IBM, Microsoft & Intel but it was Intel that got it to first work. USB was officially announced to the world in 1998 and became known overnight. Connecting a device with a USB took seconds instead of minutes with the legacy parallel and serial cables everyone knew so well, which drove the acceptance of USB. Today there is support for up to a terabyte range and multimedia devices.
A new standard called USB 2.0 in 2000 with a data transfer rate shot up to (480/Mbit/sec) unfortunately, it had a bus limitation that reduced the speed to (280/Mbit/sec) and marketed as the high-speed USB. Another benefit of the USB 2.0 standard was that it could operate at 12 and 1.5 M/bit/sec/ for those requiring less bandwidth. Before 2.0, USB ports did not allow plug-and-play for media devices or support power sources with USB up to 5V up to 500 milliamps. Furthermore, it supported the ability for two devices to connect without needing a separate USB Hub, also known as USB on the go.
Something else remarkably happened in 2000; USB is now released commercially with eight megs of storage. You may be asking where else USB can go when it has grown immensely in just a few short years.
When May 2005 came about, the standard of W_USB or Wireless USB provided facilitation for wireless short-range network communication with approximately 32 feet or 10-meter range limit. It supported a speed up to 480/Mbit/sec, but this standard is no longer in use.
After W_USB, USB Micro was invented and were miniature USB-B connectors that offered faster-charging speeds and higher data transfer than the mini. The primary purpose of this innovation was to set a standard for all smartphones, MP3 Players, GPS Systems, printers, and digital cameras
Because of the growing demand for increased digital storage and the requirement for more bandwidth, USB’s third release in November of 2008 made its day known as USB 3.0, known today as USB 3.2 Generation 1. This release allowed data transfer for a maximum of 5 Gbit/sec; however, it usually has throughputs of only 3Gbit/sec and became known as the Super USB. USB 3.0 doubled the pipelines of USB 2.0 hardware to eight and supported bi-directional data transfer and backward compatibility.
Around 2014, USB Type C connectors now on the market from their initial concept in 2012. July 2023 arrived, and USB 3.2 Generation 2x1 was born, a temporary standard identical to 3.0, except that it increased data transfer rates up 10 10 Gbit/sec. Thus the name is USB 3.2 Generation 2 because of the newly upgraded standard. With the invention of the USB-C connector, there is support for data, display, and power signals through a tiny connector. The USB-C cable was about 1/3 of the USB type A connector. The type C is oval-shaped and thicker than the USB Mini and USB Micro, which also had additional wires and pins to support the new data potential.
USB 3.2 standard in 2017 with a Type C Connector released that supports 20 Gbit/sec speeds and doubles the data transfer rate. This standard is the USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 standard taking data transfer from one path to two since it now had 10 Gbit/sec in each pathway.
USB 4.0 standard in 2015, also known as Thunderbolt 3 protocol, supported up to 40 Gbit/sec data transfer rate. Furthermore, with USB 4.0, the PDL (power delivery standard 3.1) can supply up to 240 watts. Another benefit of USB 4.0 is that it doesn’t need new connectors as it supports existing USB C connectors. Henceforth, data and video can now share data pathways to achieve the most efficient bandwidth between devices and is backward compatible with USB 2.0 and 3.2; however, the speeds will drop, respectively.
Before talking about the latest standard USB 4.0 with intelligent power delivery, we can’t leave. This new power delivery standard smartly delivers just the right amount of power the device requires. Let’s review and go over the different types of connectors for USB connectors. The oldest type is Type A, the first and most widely used USB connector with a flat, rectangular shape and is only insertable in one direction. USB B is smaller than A but square with ample space on the inside, often for connecting some printers. USB Micro B is more compact and flatter than the USB Mini B and is used on many smartphones today. USB Mini B is compact, has five pins, and is popular for older cell phones and digital cameras.
USB 3.0 Type A is flat and rectangular connectors with square pins and blue insides to quickly identify this type. A USB 3.0 Type B is small, flat, and rectangular, with two separate sections engineered to carry data and power for fast applications. Lastly, USB C is a reversible, rectangular design with rounder corners and the newest USB connector type
USB connectors have made our lives easier with faster cable connections—disconnect times and speeds and now even more with the smart power delivery standard. I encourage everyone to read my recent article about the EU: European Union passed a bill that required all mobile and consumer electronic devices to have a USB charging port. Thus it would be best if you did not have to be stocking a cable type for every device you buy and hope it’s the correct one.