Version 1.0 of the Universal Serial Bus (USB) standard was released in January 1996. 25 years and three attempts later, we’ve gone from USB 1.0’s 12 Mbit/s speeds to USB4’s 40 Gbit/s speeds. Here’s how USB conquered the world. The Problem: Wrestling with Ports and IRQs In the early 1990s, connecting peripherals to PCs was a mess. To use set up any PC, you had to utilize a handful of different types of incompatible ports and connectors. Most commonly, those included a keyboard port, a 9- or 25-pin RS-232 serial port , and a 25-pin parallel port . In addition, PC game controllers used their own 15-pin standard, and mice often plugged into serial ports or proprietary cards. At the same time, peripheral manufacturers began bumping into data rate limits in existing ports used for peripherals on PCs. Demand for telephony, video, and audio applications was growing. Traditionally, vendors had sidestepped these limitations by introducing their own proprietary ports that could be … [Read more...] about 25 Years of Making Connections With USB (After Three Attempts)
Microsoft released Windows CE in November 1996 as a new version of Windows. Designed to run pocket-sized computers, CE brought the user-friendly Windows 95 interface to mobile computing for the first time. Its architecture also formed the basis of Microsoft’s later mobile computing and smartphone products. Here’s why it was needed. A Compact, Portable Version of Windows Windows CE was necessary because full desktop versions of Windows, then tied mostly to the Intel x86 CPU architecture, weren’t practical to run on the pocket-sized devices of the time. As a result, Windows CE represented an entirely different platform from its desktop OS cousins. It couldn’t run programs designed for Windows 95 or Windows NT. Windows CE’s design emphasized low power usage, compatibility with flash memory storage, and relatively low memory requirements. It also retained a user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI) similar to Windows 95 , complete with the Start menu, and even a built-in … [Read more...] about What Was Windows CE, and Why Did People Use It?