In telecommunications, RS-232, Recommended Standard 232 refers to a standard originally introduced in 1960 for serial communication transmission of data. It formally defines signals connecting between a DTE (data terminal equipment) such as a computer terminal, and a DCE (data circuit-terminating equipment or data communication equipment), such as a modem. The standard defines the electrical characteristics and timing of signals, the meaning of signals, and the physical size and pinout of connectors. The current version of the standard is TIA-232-F Interface Between Data Terminal Equipment and Data Circuit-Terminating Equipment Employing Serial Binary Data Interchange, issued in 1997. The RS-232 standard had been commonly used in computer serial ports.
A serial port complying with the RS-232 standard was once a standard feature of many types of computers. Personal computers used them for connections not only to modems, but also to printers, computer mice, data storage, uninterruptible power supplies, and other peripheral devices.
RS-232, when compared to later interfaces such as RS-422, RS-485, and Ethernet, has lower transmission speed, short maximum cable length, large voltage swing, large standard connectors, no multipoint capability and limited multidrop capability. In modern personal computers, USB has displaced RS-232 from most of its peripheral interface roles. Many computers no longer come equipped with RS-232 ports and must use either an external USB-to-RS-232 converter or an internal expansion card with one or more serial ports to connect to RS-232 peripherals. Nevertheless, thanks to their simplicity and past ubiquity, RS-232 interfaces are still used—particularly in industrial machines, networking equipment, and scientific instruments where a short-range, point-to-point, low-speed wired data connection is fully adequate