dpbsmith asks: "It seems like a simple engineering problem--construct a device for easily and safely connecting several dozen wires at the same time--but the variety and creativity in their design over the years has been amazing, and, clearly there have been trends, fashions, and styles. In the fifties and sixties, virtually all connectors were roughly similar to the D-Sub design used for RS-232. A stiff, straight pin engaged a springy socket that contacted and bore against it on all sides. There were minor variations in shape and placement; the Amphenol Blue Ribbons (think Centronics), the connectors into which circuit boards engaged, but they were all variations on a theme. I was absolutely astounded the first time I saw a modular RJ-11 connector. Cheap, effective, and utterly unlike anything I'd ever seen before. Who invented these? Western Electric? Recently, we have the USB connector and the Firewire connector, obviously members of the same family (and a cheap-and-cheesy-seeming family it seems); on the other hand, my telephone and my digital camera have connectors that are very small and snap in with a positive lock that must be released with a squeeze, obviously yet another fundamentally different design. What do people know about the design, history, and engineering behind connectors over the years? Is it all hidden away, trade secrets of the connector companies, or is their a story that can be told?"
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