USB, which is short for Universal Serial Bus is an external bus port that can support data transfers of up to 12 Mbps. USB ports can be used to connect all sorts of peripherals including mice, keyboards, external hard drives, cameras and modems.
The USB became standard in 1998 with the release of the Apple iMac. It is now the most common port on notebooks and desktops worldwide.
In 2000, citing the slow transfer speeds of USB 1.1, the USB 2.0 specification was released. The new standard supports data rates of up to 480Mbps and is sometimes referred to as Hi-Speed USB. USB 2.0 is fully compatible with USB 1.1 and therefore uses the same connectors and cables to connect.
The latest standard was created jointly by Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Lucent, Microsoft, NEC and Philips.