One day in 1994, seven world-leading technology companies sat down and created a new standard for connecting computer peripherals. By “one day,” of course I mean, “over the span of several months.” But all technicalities aside, the standard that they laid down became the Universal Serial Bus, or USB for short.

Today, USB is truly a ‘Universal’ standard and you’d be hard-pressed to find an electronic device that doesn’t have a USB port of one kind or another. But how do you know which USB cable will fit your device? Hopefully this buying guide will help you find the cable that you need for your next project.

What Does USB Do?

USB cables replace the huge variety of connectors that used to be standard for computer peripherals: Parallel ports, DB9 Serial, keyboard and mouse ports, joystick and midi ports… Really, it was getting out of hand. USB simplifies the process of installing and replacing hardware by making all communications adhere to a serial standard which takes place on a twisted pair data cable and identifies the device that’s connected. When you add the power and ground connections, you’re left with a simple 4-conductor cable that’s inexpensive to make and easy to stow.

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