Speed of bi-directional parallel port vs usb port

Our machine shop is buying a plasma cutting table, and the salesman says any reasonable xp machine will do, laptop or desktop, as long as it has a parallel port.
New laptops generally don't have parallel ports, so I was hoping to simply get a parallel-to-usb adapter for use with a laptop.
The supplier tech person says 'NO', because they need the speed of a bi-directional parallel port; and that my solution would be too slow, with the usb port.
This makes me ask: What is the relative speed of usb 2.0 versus a parallel port?
Thank you.
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More about speed directional parallel port port
  1. The speed of a USB port is much faster than a parallel port the typical maximum speed for a parallel port is 16 Mbps and a USB port is 480 Mbps. The speed of the parallel port is much slower because of handshaking and bit skewing.
    However this does not mean that a USB to parallel converter will work, whether it does or not depends on how the programs software has been written.
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