USB connectors are the universal standard not just for computer peripherals, but for charging most phones, tablets, and small devices. It’s hard to remember a world without USB, which debuted almost exactly 25 years ago, on January 15, 1996.
The reminder comes courtesy of How-To Geek, which has published an in-depth feature on the history of the USB and its development. It’s a reminder of how complicated, difficult to set up, and even expensive computer ports could be before the USB, or Universal Series Bus, became the standard for connecting a mouse, keyboard, game controller, or any number of computer peripherals that adopted the technology.
USB was a truly universal effort, emerging as a collaboration between multiple big tech names: Intel, Microsoft, IBM, Compaq, Digital Equipment Corporation, NEC, and Northern Telecom. Adoption of the tech wasn’t immediate, and many attribute its eventual success to Apple’s release of the iMac in 1998, which was the first PC to ditch legacy ports and only support USB.
The USB also has Atari to thank for its ongoing existence, with a precursor in the Atari 800 SIO saving the USB from patent trolls.
Ex-Atari engineer Joe Decuir co-developed USB (with dozens of others) while at Microsoft in the90s
Joe told me that when patent trolls tried to derail USB, he mentioned his Atari 800 SIO design as prior art, which was a precursor to USB. Atari saved USB!https://t.co/RvLGHEFU8I pic.twitter.com/Er8U2lHRnm
— Benj Edwards (@benjedwards) January 15, 2021
Now, USB is everywhere, with many devices even doing away with all ports except for USB-C entirely. Xbox and PlayStation have long used different USB connector types for charging and connecting wireless controllers, with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S controllers featuring USB-C connections.