10:47 AM


RS-232 devices may be classified as Data Terminal Equipment (DTE) or Data Communications Equipment (DCE); this defines at each device which wires will be sending and receiving each signal. The standard recommended but did not make mandatory the D-subminiature 25 pin connector. In general, terminals have male connectors with DTE pin functions, and modems have female connectors with DCE pin functions. Other devices may have any combination of connector gender and pin definitions.
Presence of a 25 pin D-sub connector does not necessarily indicate an RS-232C compliant interface. For example, on the original IBM PC, a male D-sub was an RS-232C DTE port (with a non-standard current loop interface on reserved pins), but the female D-sub connector was used for a parallel Centronics printer port. Some personal computers put non-standard voltages or signals on their serial ports.

The standard specifies 20 different signal connections. Since most devices use only a few signals, smaller connectors can be used. For example, the 9 pin DE-9 connector was used by most IBM-compatible PCs since the IBM PC AT, and has been standardized as TIA-574. More recently, modular connectors have been used. Most common are 8 pin RJ-45 connectors. Standard EIA/TIA 561 specifies a pin assignment, but the "Yost Serial Device Wiring Standard" invented by Dave Yost is common on Unix computers and newer devices from Cisco Systems. Many devices don't use either of these standards. 10 pin RJ-50 connectors can be found on some devices as well. Digital Equipment Corporation defined their own DECconnect connection system which was based on the Modified Modular Jack connector. This is a 6 pin modular jack where the key is offset from the center position. As with the Yost standard, DECconnect uses a symmetrical pin layout which enables the direct connection between two DTEs. Another common connector is the DH10 header connector common on motherboards and add-in cards which are usually converted via a cable to the more standard 9 pin DE-9 connector (and frequently mounted on a free slot plate or other part of the housing).