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The Evolution of Data Connectors

The data connectors have evolved from chunky cables to fast USBs.


The tangled mess of cords needed to connect your computers and other devices is a thing of the past as technology moves towards Bluetooth, Apple’s Airplay, and wireless transfers of information. However, today’s Universal Serial Bus (USB) still has a place for many tech users and features many modern upgrades.

The USB is the most popular and widely used device connector around the world. One single cord can connect a computer to digital cameras, printers, scanners, external hard drives, and more. Additionally, the USB cable can provide extra layers of security for transfers of information between a hard drive and computer. While technology moves forward, no one can deny that this single cord changed the world.

Connectors for External Add-Ons

IBM was at the forefront of the connecting revolution and compounded on their success by creating a variety of connectors that met consumer needs. They set the standard for data transfer methods and computers were never the same.

They began by introducing the parallel ports on computers and continued to develop them from 1970 to 1981. Other companies including Intel, Nortel, and others also used this 25-connector design. It allowed for compatibility between computers and peripheral devices such as printers. The ports could send multiple bits of data at one time and had a bitrate ranging from 150 kbits per second to 2.5 MB per second.

When talking about computer accessories, the first thing desktop users need is a keyboard and a mouse. The first connectors for keyboards and personal computers were only compatible with specific brands. Created in the 1970s and developed by IBM, the DIN connector was the first multipurpose cord for IBM keyboards, analog audio, and motherboards.

IBM continued its innovation with the development of the PS/2 connectors in the 1980s. The PS/2 was smaller in size than the DIN and had a faster response time. These connectors eventually won out with consumers.  

Images on Screen and Data Transfer Speeds

The Video Graphics Array (VGA) was once the standard for display cables but the HDMI cable made it obsolete. Still, the VGA was a major contribution to tech innovation. The VGA allowed for the computer monitor to receive data through the cable and similar to today’s compatible HDMI cable, the VGA was not device specific. Users could connect projectors, computer displays, high definition televisions, and more using this cable.

The IEEE 1394, or more commonly known as the FireWire, was designed as a serial interface for Apple products. It gave power to devices so they could operate without a separate power supply. With a bitrate of 400-3200 Mbits per second, this connector had a quality run from 1994-2013.

Another common connector that is becoming obsolete is the Ethernet cable. This began as a way to connect local networks and was the ideal way to connect a computer to the internet. With wi-fi networks available in homes and public places alike, the need for such cables is rapidly decreasing. With slow transfer rates and the inability of some parallel ports to run simultaneously, the USB emerged as the solution to the connector crisis.


Stepping Into the USB Future

The USB offered immediate interaction between the device and a computer, without taking any extra steps regarding the computer itself. The USB 1.1, released  in the late 1990s, transferred data at a rate of 12 megabits per second. Its successor arrived soon after in 2000, and was dubbed the USB 2.0. It offered plug and play capabilities, higher transfer speeds, and adapted its transfer rates for different bandwidths. The second millennium also brought a new and convenient way to carry your information with the introduction of the USB flash drive.

Created with high-speed technology in mind, the USB 3.0 changed the game for fast data transferring. Featuring a capacity of up to 4.8 gigabits per second, additional storage options, and extra security, consumers flocked to the new device. The popularity of this USB fueled computer companies to include USB 3.0 ports on their laptops instead of the parallel ports. Even these initial USBs have become somewhat obsolete with more adaptable connecting cords with faster speeds coming out.

The USB-C is a reversible iteration of the USB port and can be found on mobile devices such as Androids, smartphones, laptops, or desktops. It is slowly replacing the mini-USB ports though has not been fully adapted.

The latest technology is known as Thunderbolt 3. This can be found on a variety of devices like MacBook Pro laptops, Windows laptops, and high-performance storage devices. It has the fastest connector at 40 GB per second and is compatible with existing USB devices and cables. With USB 4 around the corner, Thunderbolt seems to be the basis for the USB Implementers Forum’s design.

The USB 4 hopes to support speeds of 40 Gb per second and enough video bandwidth for two 4K displays. Both of these criteria, Thunderbolt has already met. Intel also developed Thunderbolt to allow for users to daisy-chain their peripheral devices. Despite its advances, the ports for this cutting-edge technology will still offer USB 3 support.

Connectors Change but Data Remains the Same

Though the size and transfer rate for connectors has changed, wear and tear on technology remains the same. Secure Data Recovery offers the fastest turnaround times in the industry and can recover data on any damaged device. For more information on our services or to start your case, call 1-800-388-1266.

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