Glenn Fleishman, TidBITS:
USB used to mean one kind of connector for a computer: Type-A, which was flat, rectangular, and had one correct orientation. A peripheral either had a directly wired cord or sported a Type-B USB port: blocky, nearly square, and with only one correct orientation as well.
Along the way, though, we accumulated others: Mini-B, a thick trapezoid used by Texas Instruments graphing calculators, early Amazon Kindles, and other devices; and Micro-B, a slim trapezoid that became the de-facto charging shape for mobile devices, headphones, and other battery-powered hardware. More obscure connectors also appeared, like the wide and oddly shaped USB 3.0 Micro-B, though you may never have seen one as it flourished only briefly.
Even with all these choices, an educated glance at a port told you what kind of connector you needed. Whether you had one in your cable drawer was another matter entirely. If you did, chances are strong you were golden.
The initial premise of USB-C was that it brought all the goodness of a solid standard with the ease of a single, reversible connector, so you’d alway have the right cable on hand, and it was easy to plug it in.
USB-C was supposed to be the last cable you would ever need. It hasn’t worked out that way.
This is a terrific, detailed walk through the USB-C morass, with some very readable charts showing off things like pre-USB-C connector profiles, certified USB logos, and USB cable connector combinations.
Don’t miss the section at the end offering a “partial list of the possible data and power support you could find in a cable with USB-C connectors on both ends”.
Great work from Glenn Fleishman, worth bookmarking and passing along.