The History and Future of USB Technology

usb stick mockup merchandising 23 2148154200 - The History and Future of USB Technology

Many of us still have a USB device attached to our bag, keychain, or tucked in the desk drawer. The USB flash drives are incredible for fast storage, keeping a collection of your favorite songs and movies, or storing important files.

However, USB technology is used for many more purposes. From connecting a wireless keyboard to a printer to removable storage, the USB devices make a one-stop solution for connecting and installing nearly any kind of hardware to your personal computer or laptop. But it wasn’t always that way. About 30 years ago, one had to follow an arduous process to connect anything to the computer. That’s where USB came to the rescue and revolutionized the computer ports.

But with the changing times, what will be the future of USB technology? Well, before diving into the future, let’s first understand how USB devices have evolved over the years.

Connecting before the invention of USB

Ports were used in the first iterations of the popular home PCs to let people plug in their monitor, keyboard, and mouse into their computer. There were the PS/2 ports that offered a short-term aid; however, these were chaotic as they were dependant on a few different pins that could bend easily if you tried plugging your device in. There were also the parallel ports that mainly served as the connectors. And how can we forget to mention floppy disks? The tiny, fussy discs were popular when introduced during the 1960s. Though they did help in external storage, their corruptibility and small capacity were an issue.

Hence, there was a need for something better. And that’s how, in 1996, we gained access to USB technology, which seemed like an ideal solution at hand.

USB ports

Seven companies were working on USB ports during the 1990s to untangle the complex external hardware connectivity and boost transfer speed. And in 1995, they finally launched the much-awaited small, rectangular port called the USB (Universal Serial Bus), which could transfer data up to a speed of 12Mbps.

So far, we have witnessed three USB generations.

First version of USB: USB 1.x

The first USB cables or ports, launched in 1996, were not broadly used by people until 1998. The USB 1.x featured two speeds: a full data transfer speed of 12Mbps and a low transfer speed of 1.5Mbps. That was a significant step back then, with manufacturers beginning to design printers, mouse, and keyboards that came with USB connectors.

Next-generation: USB 2.0

Introduced in 2000, the USB 2.0 could offer transfer speeds of up to 480Mbps. A few new developments were rolled out with the new USB version. Around this time, mobile chargers’ charging capabilities also expanded as they featured USB ports at host end. Besides, there was also a massive influx of customized USB printing for flash drives at the time.

Modern-era: USB 3.x

The USB 3.1 (often referred to as USB 3.0) was introduced in 2008 and bypassed all the previous transfer rates, maxing out at 5.0Gbps. Later in 2017, the USB 3.2 emerged, offering even faster transfer rates of up to 10Gbps.

The USB 3.0 range continues to be the most famous USB version and not much changed in the design. Until the USB Type C was introduced.

Future of the USB Device

The USB Type C is a new kind of USB, even though it has not yet wholly flourished in the market. It is different from its predecessors, who have ruled the market for 25 years; hence, people are skeptical about trying it. However, it is better in each aspect- it is thinner, has 24 pins, can transfer power a lot faster, and offer a transfer speed of up to 40Gbps. The new USB technology can also transfer data through different modes, letting you transfer different kinds of data simultaneously.

So is USB Type C the future of USB? That’s hard to say. As technology keeps evolving, USB will need to adapt accordingly. And undoubtedly, the next-gen of USB will use even faster data transfer speeds. Moreover, it can also be said that with the introduction of more USB devices, the demand for USB printing will increase. However, only time can tell what’s in store for the future of USB devices.

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