The IEEE 1394a is a type of adapter cable for computers and audiovisual equipment. It has uniquely shaped plugs that aid in high speed data transfer. After surviving many incarnations, this connector has become the standard adapter for many forms of technology. The cable can be known by different names, including FireWire, i.LINK and lynx, but it has the same format and serves the same purpose no matter the title.
The IEEE 1394a cable was developed by Apple Inc. in the 1980s as a replacement data transfer cable for its Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) bus. Engineers from Sony Corp., Texas Instruments Inc. and other technology firms also assisted in the cable's development. Over the years, it has evolved into many variations, but the 1394a is the most popular. In the 1990s and 2000s, the cable's makers hoped it would surpass the Universal Serial Bus (USB) cable as the preferred method of data transfer, but patent tie-ups kept its price high, and it therefore was not widely implemented. It has dropped this high patent fee and enjoyed a surge in popularity, but it still has not surpassed the USB.
The IEEE 1394a adapter looks a great deal like popular USB cables but with one major difference. One end of the cable has the well-known rectangular metal input look of the USB plugs and is about the same size, but the two are not interchangeable and will not fit within each other's ports. The other end of the cable is where the two stop sharing similarities. A USB cable has two identical ends, but a FireWire cable has an opposite end that is smaller than the tip of a pinky finger. This particular part of the IEEE 1394a was developed to take up as little space as possible on digital devices such as cameras.
Most computer operating systems support IEEE 1394a cables, but some people believe that Macintosh computers download the data from these wires faster than personal computers (PCs) do. No matter the system, a variety of devices use these cables to transfer data to computers. The cables were developed with video cameras in mind, because their blend of audio and visual data required a streamlined way to transfer. More recently, the cables have been adapted to digital cameras for downloading photos to a computer. Recently, high definition cable boxes began utilizing the IEEE 1394a interface to transfer their digital signal to televisions.