Back to Basics: The Case for RS-232 Serial

It's been a long time since the serial port came into existence — almost 50 years. In computer terms that makes the RS-232 serial interface a prehistoric creature still living today, like the shark for example. And the same thing that has made the shark last to the present day makes the serial port endure: it does its job very, very well.

Serial port technology has powerful attributes that are crucial for many industries: versatility, simplicity, and reliability being foremost among them. Electronic engineers and designers know this technology like they know the way around their own homes, and that confidence and knowledge makes serial ports a standard engineering interface, even when it is behind the scenes.

And while it is true that numerous other interface technologies have arrived on the scene in the time since serial ports began, none has made the RS-232 serial port disappear. In fact, you could argue that many of the newer technologies build on the essentials of traditional serial ports to meet specific needs for ease of use or speed, but that they still recognize the fundamental strength of RS-232 in their designs. Universal Serial Bus (USB) is a prime example.

So, while RS-232 serial cannot do everything, it still can do a lot, and in some applications it remains the best way of doing things.

This article and the next few that follow will detail what the essentials of RS-232 are and where it is best used. I think you'll see that the RS-232 interface — LAVA's specialty — has many practical and effective roles in the computing environment of the present and future.