With each day that passes, we rely more and more on computers for all facets of our lives in the information age. Every aspect of daily life from financial matters, health issues, and leisure time all have ties to the World Wide Web and, ultimately, computers now. For some, their computer is their livelihood. For even more, their computer provides them a crucial resource for information, communication, and organization. One reason that computers are able to accomplish all of these remarkable feats that shape our lives is their ability to be versatile, powerful, and rapid in accomplishing given tasks. The cornerstone of the computer's connective capability is through its computer ports.
Computers are equipped with various ports that allow them to operate and communicate with interchangeable peripheral devices. Some of these devices are crucial to the user to be able to operate and manipulate the computer, such as the keyboard and mouse. Other devices serve in an output capacity, such as the printer or speakers. Still others allow the computer to connect with and interact with other devices, such as PDAs, mobile phones, and MP3 players.
The USB port is one of the most popular and most used ports that come standard on nearly every computer manufactured today. USB stands for "universal serial bus" and serves as a standard for both Windows-based computers and Apple's Macintosh. USB computer ports typically enable connections with smaller devices. USB is also useful for "plug and play" applications in which a device is connected to the USB computer port and the driver is automatically located by the operating system, reducing or eliminating the need for a software boot via disk.
Firewire computer ports were developed by Apple and were widely used just a few years ago. However, Apple has all-but-abandoned Firewire support in favor of the more widely accepted USB 2.0, however many computers still come equipped with this computer port.
Parallel ports are computer ports most commonly used to connect peripherals such as printers to computers. Parallel ports are larger than USB or Firewire ports, have multiple holes that hose the prongs of the associated plug, and screw in to the case of the computer to help protect against it accidentally coming unplugged.
Other common computer ports include:
- RCA – audio/video applications
- S-Video – video
- VGA – monitor
- DVI – monitor
- RJ11 – modem
- HDMI – high-definition video
- Ethernet – networking
- PS2 – Keyboard and mouse