How USB Ports Work

Prior to 2000, most PC users were accustomed to using floppy disks to store files and transfer data, but what happened when documents exceeded their storage space? Most used multiple disks, while some tried expensive alternatives like ZIP drives which weren’t very compatible with many devices. Also, the need to connect many low to medium speed external devices to a PC was crucial to an ever evolving computer market. USB or Universal Serial Bus, became an effective way to not only store large amounts of data, but connect a number of devices to one computer (i.e. printers, cameras, iPods, etc.).

The Nuts and Bolts

While floppy disks were effective at storing documents, the need to store audio and video was seen as crucial when developing the USB 1.0. In order to save on power consumption, USB is designed to stop and go at will. The design for low and medium bandwidth usage targets anything from a keyboard and a mouse on up to a scanner or a camera. The case is composed of a four wire cable that can either house its own power supply or be bus powered.


The USB is designed to communicate with a single hub connected up to 127 devices in what looks like a star design. In order for the USB to communicate with its connector, think of a series of pipes where information runs from one point to another. Each pipe has a specific purpose like bandwidth, maximum data and transfer rate.

Designed to accommodate a variety of external connections, the USB is a versatile tool necessary to the vitality of the personal computer. Whether it’s a printer, keyboard or cell phone, the USB technology has provided an ease of use very few devices have done in the past.