Your computer has a number of ways to connect to external devices, but the Universal Serial Bus -- or USB, as it's usually abbreviated -- is probably the most versatile. It can be used to connect to printers, thumb drives and a variety of other external devices, or to accept input from a keyboard or mouse. Your mouse and keyboard are examples of what are called Human Interface Devices. Any device that's HID-compliant uses a universal, standard driver and won't require you to install any custom driver software.
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Setting the Standard
The consortium of manufacturers responsible for the USB specification grouped devices together into several broad classes, such as communication, mass storage and audio, which shared similar data-transfer needs. As the name suggests, most devices in the HID class directly transfer human input to the computer. These include game controllers and trackballs, as well as less-obvious choices such as sliders, knobs and switches on the computer's case. A few, such as steering wheels and flight yolks with tactile feedback, also communicate from the computer to the end user.