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"All IBM PC and compatible computers are typically equipped with two serial ports and one parallel port. Although these two types of ports are used for communicating with external devices, they work in different ways. A parallel port sends and receives data eight bits at a time over 8 separate wires. This allows data to be transferred very quickly; however, the cable required is more bulky because of the number of individual wires it must contain. Parallel ports are typically used to connect a PC to a printer and are rarely used for much else. A serial port sends and receives data one bit at a time over one wire. While it takes eight times as long to transfer each byte of data this way, only a few wires are required. In fact, two-way (full duplex) communications is possible with only three separate wires - one to send, one to receive, and a common signal ground wire."
See this page for definition of these terms: ATA, AUX, Centronics interface, COM, Geoport, hot plugging, IDE interface, interface, parallel interface, parallel port, port, PS/2 port, RS-232C, RS-422 and RS-423, RS-485, serial port, ST-506 interface, Ultra ATA, ZV Port
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