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Cabling the Personal Computer


Have you ever looked behind you computer and thought – oh my! – what is this mess? Cables going in every direction – tied in knots, looping in each direction with no beginning or end in sight! Fear not! I have compiled a list of the most common cables available for the home computer. Though not a complete list it is a good place to start to determine what is what in that pile of knots.

Hint: It is good to pull out your cable and clean them once a year. As you are pulling the cables out it a good idea to label the cables with a permanent marker or heavy duty sticker so it is always to identify the cables.

Parallel Cable – is typically a cable that is used to connect a printer to a computer. One side of the cable has a DB25 female connector on one side which connected to the parallel (or printer port) on the computer while the other end had a Centronics connector that connected to the printer.

Though mainly used for printers the parallel cable was also used to connect zip drives, modems, disk drives and joysticks and is used in newer computers and printers.

Serial Cable – is a cable connects two devices using serial communication based on the RS-232 standard. The cable usually consists of two connectors with either 9 or 25 pins and connects to the devices via a “com” port. This type of cable is typically used to connect a modem to a computer.

USB Cable – USB stands for universal serial bus and the cable is used to connect peripherals to a computer using a standard interface between devices that allows for devices to be connected to a system without rebooting the system or device.

The USB interface is the replacement for the parallel and serial interfaces for connecting devices such as printers, mice, keyboards and other peripherals that need to communicate with the computer.

VGA Cable – a VGA cable is typically used to connect a monitor with a computer or laptop. The cable is also referred to as a RGB cable and the connector at each end of the cable is a 15 pin male connector. VGA cables can also be used to connect a computer or laptop to certain TVs.

DVI Cable – DVI stands for Digital Visual Interface and it is a cable used to connect different digital displays such a LCD panels and projectors to a computer while maximizing the quality of the picture. The DVI standard is the predecessor to the VGA standard but not always a replacement.

Network Cable – is a cable used for wiring a network or connecting devices, such as a computer, to network equipment. A typical network cable is a category 5 cable with newer cables being category 5e or category 6.
For most users the network cable is used to connect a computer to a router or modem that is used to access the Internet. The cable connects from a port on the network card in the computer to a port on the modem or router.
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Content copyright © 2013 by Allison Nunn. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Allison Nunn. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Allison Nunn for details.

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