Geek Trivia: In Computer Lingo, Small USB-Based Hardware Additions Are Called What?

A Bluetooth USB dongle plugged into a laptopMmckinley / Wikimedia

Answer: dongles

It is quite common for computer users around the world to extend the capabilities of their computers using USB-based magnifications. Need to update your Wi-Fi network? You can plug and play as you like to improve speeds with a USB solution. You need to read SD cards on your laptop, but you do not have a built-in player? There is also a USB solution.

These small USB hardware extensions of your computer are called dongles. The etymology of the term is not clear, but it was suggested that it was a corruption of the word "hang" since the first computer dongles were hanging from the PC ports to which they were attached .

The original dongles were security-oriented: the dongle functioned as a hardware key for the computer itself or software. Although these types of dongles still exist, their use has been largely surpassed by that of general hardware dongles, which expand the hardware capabilities of the user's computer at a lower cost.


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