What is USB and Where Did It Come From?

If you use technology today—and, really, who doesn’t?—you are probably pretty familiar Primecables.ca USB ports and USB cables.  These, of course are the rectangular ports on your computer that allow you to connect external devices and storage for the purpose of peripherals use and data transfer.

USB Defined

USB, of course, is an abbreviation for “Universal Serial Bus.” It has been named as such because the protocol was designed to be a “universal” means to connect devices to computers. Indeed, the USB is now an industry standard for connecting devices to your computer but has also become the central means to charge many mobile devices that rely on battery power. Not all USB ports are the same, though.

A Quick History

While it may seem like a very recent phenomenon, USB technology was originally developed in 1994 by Intel’s Ajay Bhatt, also with the USB Implementers Forum, Inc. Obviously, the USB-IF is an organization that was focused on developing this standardized protocol and is composed of many tech industry leaders from companies like Compaq, Microsoft, HP, Apple, LSI, and of course, Intel.  The group supports existing and adopts various comprehensive specifications to continue the development of all USB technology.

USB 1.0

The first USB technology launched in 1995. It was only capable of transferring data at a rate of 12 megabits per second.  USB 1.1 came soon after, with a slight upgrade of 12 megabits per seconds plus the ability to accommodate lower bandwidth devices that run at 1.5 megabits per second.

USB 2.0

It took five more years before we say the next iteration of USB but in that time the engineers managed to dramatically improve the transfer rate. Indeed, USB 2.0 could transfer data 40 times faster than USB 1.0: at 480 megabits per second! Of course, it could also run at the lower bandwidth speeds accommodated by USB 1.0.

USB 3.0

We are presently in the third generation of USB technology, an era which began in 2010.  While this iteration certainly brought faster speeds—up to 4.8 gigabits per second (and, as always, fully backwards compatible) the technology also adopted smaller sizes (the micro-USB) and the ability to fast charge mobile devices (like phones, smart watches, and tablets) as well.