The original Universal Serial Bus (USB) standard Type-A connector was designed to plug in one way, and one way only, due to the price sensitivity of PC makers. In a recent interview with NPR, via The Verge, USB co-inventor Ajay Bhatt revealed this was the case; otherwise he could have gone with a more fumble-friendly reversible or even a barrel type connector.
Admittedly the USB standard has reduced the proliferation of port types on PCs (Parellel ports, serial ports, mouse/keyboard ports, and more) and Macs (which had their own printer, serial, input device ports and more). This complexity reduction and generations of speed increases is welcome but on the other hand, many expletives have been emitted due to the single-orientation rectangular port design. There is a popular IT enthusiast anecdote that getting a USB Type-A connector plugged in round the back of a PC or similar will take three attempts - after giving up the first fumbled attempt, turning it 180 degrees becomes clearly evident that one should have persevered earlier, and then it will pop in easily when you switch back…
The back story is that USB co-inventor Ajay Bhatt decided to design the USB interface as a remedy to the wide number of interfaces and cables tech users had to put up with in the early 90s. A particular incentive for Bhatt was his family frequently calling on him to help them print out documents.
Bhatt confirmed to NPR that the interface design's "biggest annoyance is [the lack of] reversibility". In hindsight he might have done more to insist or steer PC makers towards a reversible interface design but it wasn't to be. A great deal of cost-pressure was exerted by PC makers keen to trim any and all costs that they would have to add to their designs. Of course at first a USB port wasn't a great selling point, as such devices were few and far between - the usual chicken and egg issue with any new interface.
IT enthusiasts will be well aware that USB Type-C fixes the reversibility issue and add many more goodies too. In the latest and fastest incarnation, USB 3.2 Gen 2.2, it offers speeds up to 20Gbps, and can be used for displays. With USB4, it is set to become even more speedy and useful, rolling in all the capabilities of Intel's Thunderbolt 3.