Computer Ports

A Tech Brief Of Their Evolution

What Are Computer Ports?

On average a person will use at least one to two peripheral devices every day. A peripheral device, also known as a computer peripheral is an external object that connects to your computer via computer ports to provide inputs and outputs. Common input devices people regularly use include keyboards, mouses, touchscreens, and video cameras. Computer peripherals can also be output devices such as a monitor, speakers, and a printer. These devices connect to your computer through various ports, such as USB, Thunderbolt, and FireWire. Over the last decade there has been an increase in peripheral devices, the most notable devices are smartphones and touchscreen tablets. This has caused an increase in the demand for high-speed computer ports.

Most Popular Computer Port

The most common computer port used to communicate between computers and peripheral devices are USBs, which is short for Universal Serial Bus. USB is a Plug-and-Play interface, this is the ability of a computer to automatically detect and configure hardware, and therefore it does not require a user to physically configure the hardware.


USB Type-C

The most recent and quickly growing USB port is the USB Type-C, it was developed around 2013, and it initially grew out of talks between Microsoft, AMD, HP, and Intel.
The most incredible part of Type-C is its ability to have a power output of up to 20 volts (100 watts).


Thunderbolt is another type of computer port used for transferring data to peripheral devices. In the present day, there are three different generations of Thunderbolt. Intel and Apple jointly developed thunderbolt in 2011, its main purpose was to replace common PC protocols such as, USB and HDMI.

Thunderbolt 3

Thunderbolt 3 was released in 2015 and is the most current and efficient Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt 3 is a substantial change from its previous versions. It is capable of having data transfer speeds up to 40 gigabytes per second (Gbps). Thunderbolt 3 has not yet been fully released, but with sharing the ports with USB Type-C, there is a much higher chance for industry adoption, unlike the original Thunderbolt.


FireWire is another highly used connection port on computers. Apple developed FireWire around the 1980’s; it is their standard version of a High Performance Serial Bus. FireWire is capable of data transfer speeds up to 400 megabits per second (Mbps), compared to USB 1.x with 12 megabits per second (Mbps).


Technology is advancing faster and faster every year. This has caused a need to develop simpler and high-speed methods of connecting devices to computers. Improvements in USB and Thunderbolt are paving a new way in how we transfer data and power devices. Seeing the growth from USB 1.x all the way to USB Type-C is incredible, the opportunity for this market to grow is tremendous.

Thunderbolt 3 will also be able to grow with the newly adopted USB Type-C port. This will cause the industry to widely accept these new computer protocols, allowing all devices to share a single multipurpose wire. The ability transfer data at higher rates and be able to power devices; will lead to technological advances into many different fields.