Evolution of Computer Ports: From Chaos to USB, Exploring Connectivity History

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Evolution of Computer Ports: From Chaos to USB, Exploring Connectivity History

Before USB became the standard way to connect computers and their various gadgets, the back of a PC or Mac was a jumble of different ports. Each one needed its own special cable and served a completely different purpose.

There was serial data transfer for bit-by-bit communication between computers when there was no network or modem involved. Parallel ports were used for connecting printers, but they weren’t great for the fast two-way transfer needed for drives because they only worked in one direction at first.

So, there was SCSI for that purpose, but it was mostly for pricier devices. External drives weren’t common in offices or among regular folks. Floppy disks were the go-to storage back then.

Keyboards and mice could hook up through a PS/2 interface, which only really caught on in the ’90s. Before that, IBM PCs only had a dedicated port for keyboards. None of these connections worked for a joystick; you needed a plug-in card with a Game Port.

On the flip side, Apple came up with its own thing called ADB, which supported a bunch of devices like USB does now. There were seven types of peripherals, like for mice, keyboards, graphic tablets, dongles for copy protection, and even one for storage. That’s why it’s no surprise that Apple was one of the first to push USB as the main connection for gadgets.

Now, why this seemingly simple idea of USB is causing headaches, and why it took so long for a single standard to take over, is what we’re chatting about on our podcast.

In “Besser Wissen” (Better Knowledge), our podcast, we dive into tech and science topics in an entertaining way. We chat with the Golem.de team and bring in experts for interviews.

Each episode focuses on a specific subject, exploring it from different angles. You can catch our new episodes every week on Golem.de, or find us on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Deezer, Apple Podcasts, and Podigee. Subscribe, and you’ll get the latest episode as soon as it drops.

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Carl Woodrow
A seasoned tech enthusiast and writer, Carl delves deep into emerging technologies, offering insightful analysis and reviews on the latest gadgets and trends.