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For example a piece of hardware that plugs into a USB port and provides a PS/2 port, is it called a "USB to PS/2 adapter" or "PS/2 to USB adapter"?

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USB to PS/2 adapter because, presumably, the USB port is attached to the USB hub/controller and the PS/2 part plugs into the device. – Taylor Flores Aug 6 '13 at 17:30
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There is no standard naming convention; it depends on the manufacturer. A “proper” label would depend on the perspective of the one naming it since you could view it from either the peripheral’s point of view, or the system’s connector.

Some will use one, others will use the other. The name may even vary within the same item, so it may say one thing on the label on the product, but report a different label electronically to the OS.

The cheap Chinese ones are the worst because they usually don’t hire a proper translator and so resort to using Engrish for the labels and/or the electronics. As such, a “usb ps/2 adapter” could be either “USB PS2” or “USB PS2” (note the lack of a slash in PS/2, resulting in Sony PS2 adapters in the eBay listings, as well as the keyword spamming to cover all permutations).

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It would be a USB to PS/2 adapter. A PS/2 to USB adapter would mean you have a PS/2 port in your computer, that provides a USB port to plug newer devices that have USB cables.

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