Definition: Accessory that allows devices with otherwise incompatible connectors, plugs or mounts to work together. (a) Filter adaptors - e.g. Cokin holders, step-up rings - allow different filters and different sized mounts to fit onto lenses. (b) Lens adaptors - e.g. T-mount, Tamron Adaptall - allow lenses to be used with different makes of camera. (c) Cable adaptors - e.g. USB - Serial, Ethernet - Serial - allow devices to work with a far wider range of peripherals than otherwise possible.
That's not all, folks
Managing to plug two machines together via an adaptor is like making two party guests hold a piece of string: communication is not guaranteed. You are likely to need specific driver software to get them talking, let alone working together. it was plug and pray. Now, thank goodness, USB 2.0 and FireWire are reliably plug and play.

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