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A Bluetooth dongle that enables Bluetooth functionality on a Computer without built-in Bluetooth
A Bluetooth dongle that enables Bluetooth functionality on a Computer without built-in Bluetooth

A dongle is a small piece of computer hardware that connects to a port on another device to provide it with additional functionality, or enable a pass-through to such a device that adds functionality.[1]

In computing, the term was initially synonymous with software protection dongles—a form of hardware digital rights management where a piece of software will only operate if a specified dongle—which typically contains a license key or some other cryptographic protection mechanism—is plugged into the computer while it is running.

The term has since been applied to other forms of devices with a similar form factor, such as:

Etymology

A parallel port dongle.
A parallel port dongle.

There are varying accounts on the etymology of the word "dongle"; in a 1999 paper, P. B. Schneck stated that the origin was unclear, but that it was possibly a corruption of the word "dangle" (since these devices "dangle" from a port on a PC).[3]

A 1992 Byte magazine advertisement by Rainbow Technologies claimed that dongles were invented by and named after a person named "Don Gall", which spawned an urban legend. Linguist Ben Zimmer noted that the claim was likely a by-product of their "tongue-in-cheek" marketing style, and "was so egregiously false that the company happily owned up to it as a marketing ploy when pressed by Eric S. Raymond, who maintains the Jargon File, an online lexicon of hacker slang."[3][4]

Examples

Copy protection

Security dongles are typically used to help prevent unauthorized use and copying of certain forms of software. Initially using ports such as the serial port or parallel port, most are now in USB format.

Small peripheral appliances

A Chromecast plugged into the HDMI port of a TV.  The wire attached to the other end is the USB power supply.
A Chromecast plugged into the HDMI port of a TV. The wire attached to the other end is the USB power supply.

In the mid-to-late 2010s, the dongle form factor was extended to digital media players with a small, stick-like form factor — such as Chromecast and Fire TV Stick — that are designed to plug directly into an HDMI port on a television or AV receiver (powered via Micro USB connection to the television itself or an AC adapter), in contrast to a larger set-top box-style device. Single-board computers, such as the Intel Compute Stick, have also been produced in a similar means.[5][6]

Adapters

Other

See also

References

  1. ^ Watson, David Lilburn; Jones, Andrew (2013-08-30). Digital Forensics Processing and Procedures: Meeting the Requirements of ISO 17020, ISO 17025, ISO 27001 and Best Practice Requirements. Newnes. ISBN 9781597497459.
  2. ^ Lee, Dave (2016-11-07). "Discussing the dongles". BBC News. Retrieved 2019-04-21.
  3. ^ a b Garber, Megan (2013-07-29). "The Origin of the Word 'Dongle': 7 Leading Theories". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2019-04-21.
  4. ^ Schneck, P.B. (July 1999). "Persistent access control to prevent piracy of digital information". Proceedings of the IEEE. 87 (7): 1239–1250. doi:10.1109/5.771075.
  5. ^ Welch, Chris (2016-03-09). "Intel Compute Stick review: Windows 10 for your TV". The Verge. Retrieved 2019-04-21.
  6. ^ Bohn, Dieter (2016-04-27). "This $70 computer stick is designed for Ubuntu". The Verge. Retrieved 2019-04-21.
  7. ^ "Metroid Pinball Rumbles", IGN, retrieved 2019-08-26