The standard was made to improve plug and play devices. This means that a device can be plugged into a free socket, and simply work. The computer will notice the device. The computer sometimes installs special software to use the device. The device can be removed after it stops being used. This technology is called "hot swapping". "Hot swapping" means it can be plugged and unplugged while the power is on. The computer does not need to be turned off for people to change the devices.
USB can provide a small amount of power to the attached device through the USB cord. Devices that only need a little power can get it from the bus, and do not need a separate electric power plug. That allows gadgets like USB battery chargers, lights, and fans.
As of 2015, USB has mostly replaced several older standards. Those include the parallel port, serial port and SCSI. These old standards are still used for a few jobs where USB cannot replace them.
The first version of the Universal Serial Bus was created in 1995. This new technology became an instant success. Since the introduction of USB, people that make electronic devices thought about how it could be used in the future. Today, USB connects a computer or other devices like laptops and MP3 players to peripheral devices.
The bus was introduced by seven companies which represent the leaders in the industry of information technology:
Compaq, IBM, Intel, Microsoft,
NEC, Northern Telecom, and
Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC).
Several years earlier, adopters and developers of USB held a meeting called Plugfest at a special hotel in California to test their devices. They selected a hotel that included rooms for sleeping and for testing. The meeting lasted three days. During the meeting, the representatives of about 50 companies connected their USB devices to one general host system.
The logo of the USB device also has its own history. The USB logo was in development for several months.
1994 - Seven companies united to begin the development of USB.
1995 - 340 companies formed the USB Implementation Forum.
1996 - More than five hundred USB products were already developing around the world.
1997 - USB Implementation Forum became richer with 60 more companies.
1998 - USB becomes the most popular technology on the market of electronics.
2000 - The introduction of USB 2.0. Today it represents the most widely used USB device.
2005 - USB becomes wireless.
2008 - USB 3.0 is introduced. It is over 10 times faster than USB 2.0.
2013 - USB 3.1 is introduced. It is about twice as fast as USB 3.0.
2015 - USB Type-C is introduced. It is a reversible connector, which means that you can plug it in both ways.