Ever spent time fighting with your USB plug? Here’s why the port isn’t reversible
The reason is surprisingly simple.
It’s nearly 25 years since the Universal Serial Bus (USB) standard came into being, and for most of those years, we’ve been fighting to plug them in correctly.
So why wasn’t the plug reversible from the get-go, like the USB-C standard? It all comes down to the cost of adoption for the fledgling standard.
The USB plug was single-sided as a cost consideration
When Intel and its partners came up with the USB interface as a replacement for the terrible mess of device-specific cables from the early days of personal computers, they needed to convince PC manufacturers to use the new standard. The PC makers of the time were famously cost-sensitive, so every extra cent would be used against the new standard, despite its utility.
Never mind that the new standard could replace serial ports, parallel ports, FireWire, and others. Never mind that it also replaced that huge tangle of wires. The one real problem was one of cost.
To make the USB standard reversible, like on USB-C, would require twice as many connectors, and twice as many wires. That’s twice the cost of implementation, and at the time, PC manufacturers wouldn’t go for it. That’s the simple reason that it took until now for making USB ports that could plug in either way, saving us time and frustration.
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