The universal serial bus (USB) is a connection between a host computer and a number of peripheral devices. It was originally created to replace a wide range of slow and different buses -- the parallel, serial, and keyboard connections -- with a single bus type that all devices could connect to. USB has grown beyond these slow connections and now supports almost every type of device that can be connected to a PC. The latest revision of the USB specification added high-speed connections with a theoretical speed limit of 480 MBps.
Topologically, a USB subsystem is not laid out as a bus; it is rather a tree built out of several point-to-point links. The links are four-wire cables (ground, power, and two signal wires) that connect a device and a hub, just like twisted-pair Ethernet. The USB host controller is in charge of asking every USB device if it has any data to send. Because of this topology, a USB device can never start sending data without first being asked to by the host controller. This configuration allows for a very easy plug-and-play type of system, whereby devices can be automatically configured by the host computer.