How-To Geek

How Standards Proliferate

From your phone charger to your instant messenger, competing standards abound. Here’s how the pile grows ever larger.

xkcd [via Neatorama]

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 09/12/12

Comments (7)

  1. r

    well, at the very least it offers consumers some flexibility of choice, unlike being under the restraints of a monopoly or monopsony.

  2. Aaronoroff

    Quite the opposite! You have to take the one that suits. Take chargers – loads of devices could charge from a standard USB port, but instead you have to use the device with the particular plug that fits

  3. r

    …yes, but it all starts with the choices we have & make in purchasing the actual device. Devices may have a particular female adapter for several reasons that include product design, pin-count & usage or certain legal issues, but they likely conform to standard USB at the other end of the cable.

  4. MasterRider

    At least they could put their name on the charger so you know which charger goes with which device.

  5. JanToreSandvik

    Well, at least almost all mobile phones now come with the same charger plug. There is almost just one particular Californian brand that don’t want to standardize.

  6. Lu


    Or you could do that because it’s something that even a six-year-old could do.

  7. "gunner"

    i can’t cite the month/year, but many years ago “analog” sci-fi magazine ran a story comparing the welter of competing operating systems of the time to cars, each running on seperate, incompatible road systems. if you bought a chevy it couldn’t use a ford type road and so on. are we going there again?

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