parallel port

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parallel port

[′par·ə‚lel ‚pȯrt]
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

parallel port

An interface from a computer system where data is transferred in or out in parallel, that is, on more than one wire. A parallel port carries one bit on each wire thus multiplying the transfer rate obtainable over a single wire. There will usually be some control signals on the port as well to say when data is ready to be sent or received.

The commonest kind of parallel port is a printer port, e.g. a Centronics port which transfers eight bits at a time. Disks are also connected via special parallel ports, e.g. SCSI or IDE.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (

parallel port

(1) A hardware interface that transfers one or more bytes simultaneously. See parallel interface.

(2) A socket on a computer used to connect a printer or other device via a parallel interface (eight data bits transferring simultaneously). In the past, the parallel port was widely used for printers and occasionally for connecting other devices externally, but was superseded by USB.

Although some business printers may still offer parallel ports, consumer-based printers and new computers have only USB. However, parallel port devices can be hooked up to new computers with a USB-to-parallel adapter cable.

It Goes Back to the 1970s
The Centronics Data Computer Corporation, a subsidiary of Wang Laboratories in the 1970s, introduced a parallel port for printers. It was adapted for the IBM PC in 1981 and enhanced and standardized by the IEEE in 1994 (see IEEE 1284). The port first appeared on plug-in cards, but was later built into the motherboard. See Centronics interface.

In Transition
As USB ports (left) began to proliferate, the parallel and serial ports (right) were included for a while, but eventually gave way entirely to USB.

In Transition
As USB ports (left) began to proliferate, the parallel and serial ports (right) were included for a while, but eventually gave way entirely to USB.
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