Our Thunderbolt docking station has evolved through the development of Thunderbolt by Intel and their original product partner, Apple.
Apple released the first version of Thunderbolt on their MacBook Pro in 2011.
The original Thunderbolt and later Thunderbolt 2 used a Display Port connector which was incompatible with USB varieties that dominated PC computers.
Originally invented by Intel’s Silicon Photonics group, the technology was originally slated to run through optical fibres and was known within Intel as Light Peak.
However, alongside Apple, Intel found they could achieve similar data throughput at significantly lower cost by using traditional copper wires.
The trademark “Thunderbolt” was registered by Apple who later ceded the name to Intel who still held the technology’s intellectual rights.
That meant there wasn’t the same proliferation of Thunderbolt products as there was for USB 3.0 and later, USB-C products. As is often the case with technologies championed by Apple, the relatively high cost for Thunderbolt peripherals and accessories was a major hurdle in growing the market for Thunderbolt.
Released at the end of 2008, USB 3.0 incorporated SuperSpeed (SS) data transfer up to 5 gigabits per second (Gbps). Utilising full-duplex transfers so that data can transfer in both directions simultaneously, allowed USB 3.0 about a 20x bandwidth increase over USB 2.0.
At the time the huge advantage for USB 3.0 acceptance was the backward compatibility with USB 2.0 devices. Simply, your new computers would still work with your old USB 2.0 peripherals.
USB 3.1 Gen 2 was announced in 2013, raising transfer speeds 10 Gbps. This was the same speed that Apple was touting with Thunderbolt. However, this latest Intel technology used a new connector, referred to as a USB Type-C or more simply USB-C.
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