Short for Universal Serial Bus, an external bus standard that supports data transfer rates of 12 Mbps. Probably a cool idea, basically, a high-speed, multi-device serial interface. Actually, closer perhaps to a simplistic network system for peripherals. Crams a lot of devices into a single interrupt, which is something we REALLY need on the PC architecture. Claims to be "plug-and-play", and comes closer than other things describing themselves that way. Currently being used for keyboards, mice, scanners, printers, digital cameras, etc. One port on the computer can be "split" into multiple ports using hubs and can connect up to 127 peripheral devices. USB ports actually also provide a 5v power supply, so many devices can be powered directly from your computer (or the hub), so the device may connect to the outside world with only one cable.
Starting in 1996, a few computer manufacturers started including USB support in their new machines. It wasn't until the release of the best-selling iMac in 1998 that USB became widespread. It is expected to completely replace serial and parallel ports.
What is USB2.0?
Also referred to as Hi-Speed USB, USB 2.0 is an external bus that supports data rates up to 480 Mbps. USB 2.0 is an extension of USB 1.1. USB 2.0 is fully compatible with USB 1.1 and uses the same cables and connectors.
Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Lucent, Microsoft, NEC and Philips jointly led the initiative to develop a higher data transfer rate than the 1.1 specification to meet the bandwidth demands of developing technologies. The USB 2.0 specification was released in April 2000.
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