Colour-Coded Connector Confusion

Ever wondered why all of your PC’s connectors are weird colours, and who gets to decide what colour is what?

Intrigued by the fact that my old Gateway keyboard (on which I wore out the spacebar after less than a year of use) had an orange connector and my new Dell one had a purple one, and that my microphone connector was a rather effeminate shade of pink, I went in search of the answer. It turns out that the colours are defined by the PC99 standard (careful, it’s 1.5MB of PDF). The standard uses Pantone rather than RGB, so I’ve converted them to a swatch for you.

Connector Colour name Pantone
Analog VGA Blue 661C    
Audio line in Light blue 284C    
Audio line out Lime 577C    
Digital monitor/flat panel White    
IEE 1394 Grey 424C    
Microphone Pink 701C    
MIDI/Game Gold 131C    
Parallel Burgundy 235C    
PS/2-compatible keyboard Purple 2715C    
PS2-compatible mouse Green 3395C    
Serial Teal or Turquoise 322C    
Speaker out/subwoofer Orange 157C    
Right-to-left speaker Brown 4645C    
USB Black 426C    
Video out Yellow 123C    
SCSI, network, telephone, modem, and so on None    

So now you know. (Bad Gateway! No cookie!) How does your computer score? Start with 10 points, and subtract one for each incorrectly-coloured connector or plug.

3 thoughts on “Colour-Coded Connector Confusion

  1. My PC got 7 (or 6, depends) :). USB connector/plug has no color at all, MIDI has yellow color, my speaker plug also has no color at all. Microphone input, well you can’t really, the connector can be configured as mic input, but also as output for rear speakers (if you use a 5.1 sound system).

  2. The only ones that actually matter are the ones where there are different leads with the same connector (e.g. PS/2 keyboard and mouse). Hopefully not many people would try to plug a video cable into their parallel port, or whatever.