In this modern age, consumers use connectors every day to power their droves of devices. The types of connectors vary from product to product and person to person, but there is one that pervades nearly every American home: the RCA connector. Usually distinguished by its well-known red, yellow and white combination of wires, the RCA is the most extensively used equipment connector. But will it be that way forever?
The RCA connector was designed by RCA, or the Radio Corporation of America, in the 1940s to connect phonographs to sound amplifiers. Although at the time the connector only carried audio signals, the current manifestation of the cable carries stereo audio and composite video as well. These days, if you buy a television or any other kind of audio or video device, they will come with RCA jacks. These jacks appear as just three small holes on the back and front of the product and are known as “female” connectors.
To utilize an RCA connector, you simply match the color-coded “male” connector, which is the cable itself, into the color-coded jack. The yellow cable is for composite video, the red is for the left channel of stereo audio and the white is for the other, or left, channel. DVD players, video game consoles and camcorders all use the technology.
Despite the RCA connector’s prevalence, there are many downsides to the technology. The cables have a tendency to make a buzzing noise when plugged in, which can harm the equipment. Additionally, even though the cables and jacks are colored, it takes a moment to configure the correct order in which to connect, which can also lead to quality and performance issues. This issue of confusion would be mitigated if there were simply one “female” jack and “male” cable. Most importantly, RCA cables are an analog technology in an increasingly digital world. Eventually they will become outdated and devices will no longer be manufactured with these standard jacks.