You're telling me we could have had reversible USB cables all along?

by John Stapel

  1. Home
  2. News
Reversible USB Type-A cable
(Image credit: Future)

What the hell, guys, why haven't we had reversible USB cables on our peripherals for years? I mean, I get that with USB Type-C it no longer matters which way around you plug in your cable—unless you're some absolute monster, that is—but we could have had that all along with the classic, 'normal' USB plugs. Or did everyone else already know this, and my astonishment at finding this Lightning cable-looking bastard in the box of a new keyboard is just me being waaay behind the times?

I've been checking out a bunch of new keyboards recently, such as the glorious little Mountain Everest 60 and the almost glorious NZXT Function MiniTKL, but neither have had my jaw hit the floor so hard as when pulling the Kemove K68 Butterfly out of its box.

It's a moderately weird, curvy shape, and I can't get the lighting to hit my favoured hot pink aesthetic just yet, but the board hasn't been released, so I'll forgive it some software-based funkiness for now. That's not the stunner, though.

It's the bundled USB Type-A to Type-C cable that has really shocked me. I mean, it doesn't care which way around I plug it into my machine and that blows my mind. I've since found some others online, which look nowhere near as cool, housed as they are in the same rectangular metal shroud. This one is instead out and proud, and I love it for that.

Yet that still begs the question of why the hell have we been labouring under the yoke of non-reversible USB cables for so damned long when there's been an alternative right under our noses?

The original reason for not making the first USB plugs reversible is one of cost. Ajay Bhatt, the leader of the team at Intel who created the Universal Serial Bus, has gone on record to talk about "the biggest annoyance" being the reversibility, but that it was necessary because it would have otherwise required twice as many wires, and twice as many circuits, doubling the cost.

Given that it was a protocol designed to counter the typically Apple expense of sticking Firewire onto a motherboard, cost was the biggest reason for the eventual success of USB as a thing.

But I'm not buying that now, when a wee company selling gaming keyboards via Kickstarter can bundle one with a new keeb. So, screw these outdated, restrictive USB Type-A plugs, I want my legacy cables to get with the times.

Dave James

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.