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All About USB - History, Specifications, Benefits & More

written by: Om Thoke•edited by: Swagatam •updated: 2/25/2010

USB stands for Universal Serial Bus, and USB makes the connection of peripheral devices to the computer a seamless experience. This article covers introduction to USB, its history, benefits, current specifications, and virtually everything about USB from basics to advanced stuff.

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    History of USB

    USB was invented in the month of January, 1996 by a group of all the famous companies like Intel, Compaq, Microsoft, and Sony. USB can also be defined as the medium that can establish connectivity between the host controller and devices. The intention of USB is to replace many varieties of parallel and serial ports. Now days the USB is can be used to connect any peripheral to PC such as keyboards, printers, and digital cameras, mice, and media players like DVD players, external hard drives and flash drives. For many of these peripheral devices, USB soon became the standard mode of connectivity.

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    Why was USB Designed?

    USB USB was mainly designed for personal computers, but it became the common option on other devices like PDAs, smart phones, video game consolers, mobile phones, power cord for charging an AC adapter plugged into the wall plug.

    There are nearly 2 billion USB devices sold every year, and about 6 billion USBs have been sold to date. USB design is standardized by “USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF)", which is a common body that follows industry standards set by top most companies from the electronics and computer industries.

    Some of the noteworthy members include Apple Inc., Intel, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Agere, NEC, and Sony.

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    When was USB Launched?

    USB-Plugs The USB was introduced in 1996 with the USB 1.0 specification. The intention of manufacturing USB was to make it easier to connect any external device to PC by merely replacing the multitude of the connectors present at the backside of the PCs, and addressing the usability issues of the existing interfaces.

    It was also meant to simplify the software configurations of all the devices that are connected to USB and also to permit greater bandwidths for the connected external devices.

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    Benefits of Using USB

    usb hub With the USB manageable peripherals and PCs, one can just plug them to the slot provided on the computer and turn them on. The entire process is automated with USB. It is just about adding new instant capabilities to a PC. With the power of USB, one doesn't needs to open the PC for installing add-on cards, IRQs or DIP switch settings.

    One among the salient features of the USB is hot swapping. There is no need of turning off and restarting the PC in order to remove or attach a peripheral. The work to be done is just to plug in the new device and the device will be automatically detected by the PC and the necessary configuration of the device will be installed by PC on its own.

    Another advantage of the USB is that one can connect many peripherals simultaneously using different USB ports. Most of the PCs come with a minimum of two USB ports.

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    USB Hubs

    There are special USB peripherals known as USB hubs having additional ports that allow the user to make a daisy chain and to connect the multiple devices together. In the present market, many PCs and laptops are given with USB ports. These ports are ready for the USB scanners, printers, digital cameras, digital gaming devices and computer telephony products.

    Nowadays, even USB GPS receivers have become popular in the market.

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    Understanding USB Specifications

    USB types The original specification of USB 1.0 had a bandwidth for data transfer of 12 Mbps. USB 2.0 was introduced in the month of April, 2000 and USB-IF standardized it at the end of the year 2001.

    Hewlett Packard, Lucent technologies, Intel, Philips, NEC came together to take an initiative to develop a new USB version with a higher data rate than what was achieved by the 1.0 specification.

    Few months back, the most advanced version of USB, the USB 3.0 was introduced during the year 2009, which has lightening fast data transfer rates. However, USB devices with USB 3.0 standards haven't been launched in the market yet.