Computers and other electrical devices have specific types of cords and cables that work for them, typically meeting specific needs in the process. The same is true for small handheld devices when it comes to mp3 players, cell phones and similar devices. USB is a standard familiar with most personal computer users. The standard is used to connect numerous devices. Some of the most common things you might connect with a USB cable include things like printers and external hard drives. The USB standard came to be in 1996 and was a collaboration that existed between several large companies.
At the time a simple higher speed connector was needed that was designed with the consumer in mind. Since its inception, the USB has nearly replaced many connectors and plugs that were once common. Some of these include the parallel port, serial ports, consumer based external SCSI and PS2. At the time of USBs introduction another standard was being developed by other large companies. This standard was known as Fire Wire and was a direct competitor for USB. The fight lasted for several years, but today most companies have dropped Fire Wire support in favor of USB.
Today it is not just computers that depend on USB technology. Micro and Mini USB was created and allowed USB to be used on smaller form factor devices such as phones, PDAs, MP3 and other types of PMPs. With the loss of PS2 ports you will find most keyboards and mice depend on USB, in addition one of the most common uses of USB is flash or thumb drives allowing users to store and move information from computer to computer. Since its development, there have been some improvements to the USB standard that have made it even more beneficial.
One of the biggest improvements along this line was the introduction of USB 2.0. The 2.0 standard allowed for faster data transfer speeds and longer USB cables. Recently there has been additional development of a USB 3.0 version that allows for a very long USB cable and much, much faster speeds. Both USB 2.0 and 3.0 are backwards compatible meaning you can plug a 1.0 USB device into a 2.0 or 3.0 port; it will simply not transfer at the faster rate. USB can be a valuable type of cable for a variety of different purposes, including charging devices and connecting devices to computers for data sharing.