What are the Different Versions of USB and How do They Work?

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa Mertes

Promo Expert

Published: February 9th, 2017

Updated: April 22nd, 2019

USB, or Universal Serial Bus, are the small ports located on the sides or back of your laptop, or on the tower for your PC. The USB connects external devices such as printers, keyboards, flash drives, and even your cell phone to your computer, laptop, or tablet! There are a lot of different kinds of USBs:

  • USB 1.0
  • USB 1.1
  • USB 2.0
  • USB 3.0
  • USB 3.1
  • USB 3.2

No matter what USB port version you have, the biggest difference is the data speeds. However, when it comes to the various types, like type A, B, and C, the sizes begin to vary greatly. Let’s dive in and explore the world of USBs and how they work!

When Were USBs Invented?

When Were USBs Invented?

The USB first began development in 1994 and made its debut two years later. The goal was to create a device for your PC that allowed other devices to sync up to it without needing a variety of cords. As technology continues to become faster and gain more storage, USBs follow suit as newer versions always emerge in the market.

Check out the progression of USB’s with this helpful chart!

  • USB 1.0 – released January 1996
  • USB 1.1 – released August 1998
  • USB 2.0 – released April 2000
  • USB 3.0 – released November 2008
  • USB 3.1 – released July 2013
  • USB 3.2 – released September 2017
When Were USBs Invented?
USB Type
Release Date
  • USB 1.0
  • USB 1.1
  • USB 2.0
  • USB 3.0
  • USB 3.1
  • USB 3.2
  • January 1996
  • August 1998
  • April 2000
  • November 2008
  • July 2013
  • September 2017

Who Invented the First USB?

Ajay Bhatt Image Source: www.epo.org

Most people claim that computer expert Ajay Bhatt invented the USB; however, he openly expresses that he is the co-inventor. Bala Sudarshan Cadambi, Jeff Morriss, Shaun Knoll, and Shelagh Callahan all assisted in creating the USB.

In the 21st century, it’s impossible to get through your everyday life without using USB technology. Charging your phone, saving your homework to a flash drive, or connecting a printer to your computer all use USBs. Bhatt may not like taking full credit for his invention, but after being frustrated with his wife’s computer, he was driven to think up a better solution. The USB made it easier to streamline communication from a device to your computer and the world wouldn’t be the same without it!

Ajay Bhatt Image Source: www.epo.org

How Does a USB Work?

The USB is an easy device to use. You plug it into its port and voila, you have a connection! A USB cable is made up of four wires. The power source comes from the red (positive charge) and black (ground) wires. This is standard in every electrical source. The other wires are called data + (white) and data - (green). These create an opposite polarity or mirror image. The white wire (data +) transfers the information to its destination while the green wire (data -) ensures that the connection isn't lost.

How Does a USB Work?
  • RED = Power source
  • BLACK = Ground wire
  • WHITE = Transfers data
  • GREEN = Keeps connection
How Does a USB Work?

What Are USB Hubs?

What Are USB Hubs?

A USB hub is a device used externally that hooks up to your computer to add more USB ports since most computers only have one or two. Hubs are usually shaped like a block with a USB cable that you use to hook them up to your computer. This allows you to use more than one or two USB devices at a time.

The biggest difference between USB hubs is their power source. Some hubs draw power from the computer source they're hooked up to, whereas others draw power from an external source, such as a battery or an outlet.

What Are USB Hubs?
Did you know?

By utilizing USB hubs, the USB port on your computer allows you to connect up to 127 different devices!

What Are the Different Versions of USB?

What Are the Different Versions of USB?

USB may have the word “universal” in its name, but that doesn’t mean every port works for every device. There are 6 versions of USB, as well as 3 different types of ports. Take a look at the different USB options you can choose from.

  • USB 1.0
  • USB 1.1
  • USB 2.0
  • USB 3.0
  • USB 3.1
  • USB 3.2
What Are the Different Versions of USB?

USB 1.1

USB 1.1

Before USBs, computers had connectors called serial and parallel ports. Many computer companies, such as Intel, Microsoft, and Apple, came together to invent a universal device that connected external sources to a PC without having to disconnect or restart.

USB 1.1

USB 2.0

USB 2.0

In 2000, the USB 2.0 took over. The biggest difference between the 2.0 and 1.1 were the speed transfers. The USB 2.0 transmitted data 40 times faster than the USB 1.1 with a signaling rate at 480 megabits per second!

Soon enough, USB 2.0 ports or cables became standard for newer computers and external devices. Aside from the newly improved speeds, the USB 2.0 was backwards compatible with all USB 1.1 ports and vice versa. For example, if you bought a new computer with USB 2.0 ports, but your webcam and keyboard had USB 1.1 connectors, your external devices would still link up to your PC! The same would happen in reverse. Maybe you don't need a new computer, but you need to buy a new external hard drive. The external hard drive with a USB 2.0 connector will fit perfectly in your computer's USB 1.1 port.

USB 2.0

USB 3.0

USB 3.0 Image Source: www.netexpertos.cl

The 2.0 model was highly efficient and greatly improved the capabilities of USBs. However, as is the case with all technology, there was a need for more speed and higher functionality, which lead to the invention of USB 3.0.

This version was the first of its kind to successfully transfer high-definition video. Not to mention, it was also known as the SuperSpeed USB with transmission rates of 5 gigabits per second, or about 5,120 megabits per second. There was even a difference visually from the rest of the other USBs. The inside of the receptacles now contained blue inserts. Just like USB 1.0, USB 3.0 didn't really take off and its later successors became more popular.

USB 3.0 Image Source: www.netexpertos.cl

USB 3.1 and USB 3.2

USB 3.1 and USB 3.2 Image Source: amazon.com

Macbooks and Chromebooks were some of the first computers to use the USB 3.1, which was released in 2014. USB 3.1 had transfer speeds up to 10 gigabits per second, which is over 800 times faster than the original USB 1.1!

Three years later, USB 3.2 was released and with 20 gigabits per second transfer speeds, it was twice as fast as USB 3.1. As we all look towards the future, USB 3.1 and 3.2 will begin to really take off, especially since they’re the only USBs that accommodate Type C connectors. These connectors are full-duplex, meaning you can transmit data in both directions because the USB is completely symmetrical.

USB 3.1 and USB 3.2 Image Source: amazon.com

What Are the Different USB Types?

There are 3 main receptacles (the part that plugs into your device) for USBs: Type A, Type B, and Type C. The most common port is Type A and can be found on all laptops and PCs. However, as devices like cell phones and cameras continue to get smaller, so do their receptacles.

USB 1.0

Standard:

Type A

Type-A

Type B

Type-B


Mini: N/A

Micro: N/A

Full Duplex (symmetrical): N/A

USB 2.0

Standard:

Type A

Type-A

Type B

Type-B


Mini:

Mini A

Mini-A

Mini B

Mini-B

Mini AB

Mini-AB


Micro:

Micro A

Micro-A

Micro B

Micro-B

Micro AB

Micro-AB


Full Duplex (symmetrical): N/A

USB 3.0

Standard:

Type A

Type-A
SuperSpeed

Type B

Type-B
SuperSpeed


Mini: N/A

Micro:

Micro B

Micro-B
SuperSpeed

Full Duplex (symmetrical): N/A

USB 3.1

Standard:

Type A

Type-A
SuperSpeed

Type B

Type-B
SuperSpeed


Mini: N/A

Micro:

Micro B

Micro-B
SuperSpeed

Full Duplex (symmetrical):

Type C

USB 3.2

Standard:

Type A

Type-A
SuperSpeed

Type B

Type-B
SuperSpeed


Mini: N/A

Micro:

Micro B

Micro-B
SuperSpeed

Full Duplex (symmetrical):

Type C

What Are the Different USB Types?

Devices using USB 1.1-3.0 may require multiple cords just to accommodate all the different plug types and sizes. Even though Type A will always fit into your PC on one end, your phone might have a micro AB plug on the other, while your camera has a mini A plug.

That might not be an issue for long with Type C connectors. The development of Type C is an attempt to make all USB connections the same for all devices and computers. Type C connectors are smaller in comparison to Type A ports and will finally be catching up to modern technology as they become the new standard for future devices.

The Future of Technology

The Future of Technology

There's no doubt that technology will continue to expand. USBs have a lot of functions we need every day in the modern world. As Type C connectors take over the digital era, you’ll be able to finally get rid of all those USB cables in your desk drawer and make room for one that fits all new PCs and devices. In other words, the USB will become truly universal!

Apple was the first to create a charging cable that works symmetrically. That means the charger will work regardless of which way the connector is plugged in to the port, similarly to Type C ports. Even though Type C ports have been out for some time, not all devices have made the switch to Type C. As technology continues to advance, the goal is that someday all devices will have the same ports and connectors.

The Future of Technology

The Bottom Line

USBs may seem complicated if you aren’t in a technology field, but they were invented to make our lives a lot easier! Whether you’re using them to charge your phone or connecting a mouse to your desktop, a USB will be there to save the day.