When connecting devices to each other, we can always rely on USB cables to get the job done. However, not too many of us actually spend time thinking about the USB itself, such as who invented it. By the way, who invented the USB?
USB was invented by Ajay Bhatt 1995, an Intel employee at the time. He led a team from seven companies, Compaq, DEC, IBM, Intel, Nortel, Microsoft, and NEC, to develop the USB standard. Since then, the USB has become the default connector, with billions of USB ports in use worldwide today.
This article explores who invented the USB and the technology itself. We also look at the types of USB, inventors of the all-important USB drive, and who currently owns the USB Patent.
What Is A USB?
USB means the Universal Serial Bus, an interface that helps a computer communicate with peripheral devices. USB can also deliver power and charge devices. There have been several versions of USB technology, with over 6 billion USB ports sold worldwide.
The USB is an acronym for Universal Serial Bus. You may see it as an interface that enables a computer to communicate with peripheral devices as well as other types of devices. USB is also a plug-and-play system, meaning you can plug in, and the device will run and connect without needing you to restart your computer.
A wide variety of hardware can be linked to a computer via a USB port, from keyboards, mice, music players and flash drives.
Certain devices, such as smartphones and tablets, can receive power through a USB connection. This means USB can now charge batteries and transfer data at the same time. The USB port has also made its way into automobiles, motorcycles, and kitchen appliances as they become computerized.
The Universal Serial Bus (version 1.0) was made available to the general public for the first time in January 1996. After that, many major tech firms such as Intel, Compaq, and Microsoft adopted the standard, resulting in its general popularity. Since then, multiple USB versions have been introduced, such as USB 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0.
USB is currently the world’s most popular connector port, with billions of it used worldwide. Over 2 billion USB connectors are sold every year as well.
What Are The Versions And Types of USB?
USB interfaces can be broken into versions and types. Versions are usually indicated in numbers, such as 2.0, 3.0, or 4.0. Types refer to the ports’ shape and size and are usually shown in letters, such as Type A, B, or C.
When it comes to types and versions of USB, the general rule is that the types are usually in letters, while the versions are in numbers. Types also refer to the connector’s shapes, while the version refers to the underlying technology.
Generally, more advanced USB versions can handle higher amounts of data transfer or deliver power to charge devices.
Minor versions were introduced between the major USB versions, such as 1.1 or 3.2. As a result, X is used to include these minor updates in its parent version.
Version 1.X (1995): USB 1.0 can only transfer rate of around 1.5 to 12 Mbit/s (Megabits Per Second). It does not allow for extension cables due to timing and power limitations. USB only became widespread during the introduction of USB 1.1.
Version 2.X (2000): USB 2.0 improved transfer rate to around 480 Mbit/s. USB version 2 is also able to charge batteries with a current of up to 1.5A.
Version 3.X (2008): USB 3.0 introduced SuperSpeed transfer mode while allowing data transfer of up to 5 Gbit/s, which is blazing fast. The charging capability is also better since it can take an increased current between 150 mA and 900mA.
Version 4 (2019): USB4.0 supports even faster data transfer, up to 50 Gbit/s, and is compatible backward to USB 2.0.
These USB versions may come in multiple port shapes and sizes. These port shapes and sizes are standardized into types, usually indicated in letter form.
Type A: Type A connectors are probably the most common USB port you see. Upon closer inspection, it has a rectangular shape and reveals 4 metal pins with a ceramic or plastic backing. Type A connectors have been used since USB 1.0 and up to USB 3.1. Future versions of USB stopped using Type-A connectors.
Type A connectors also come in miniaturized subtypes called Mini-A and Micro-A connectors. These subtypes are usually used in smaller devices that cannot accommodate a Type A socket. These subtypes are also supported up to the USB 3.1 version.
Type B: Type B connectors may be less seen around. Most of us might have seen a Type B connector from our inkjet printers. It is square, with some 45° bending at the top left and right edges.
Similar to Type A, Type B connectors have smaller subtypes called Mini-B and Micro-B. All types of Type B connectors support USB versions up to USB 3.1.
Type C: Type C connectors are probably becoming more and more common as Type A and B connectors get phased up. Type C has an elongated pill shape and may have up to 12 pins. Its small and thin size made it popular with many modern digital devices and computers, which can easily fit sockets into the device body.
Type C connectors could be seen as the future of USB, as Type A and B connectors no longer work with newer versions of USB. Only Type C connectors can utilize the technologies in USB 3.2 to the newest USB 4.0.
Who Came Up With the Invention Of The USB?
USB as a standard was initiated by a group of seven major tech companies, Compaq, DEC, IBM, Intel, Nortel, Microsoft, and NEC. The goal at the time was to develop a standard technology to help the interconnectivity of devices across the brands.
An Intel engineer named Ajay Bhatt was tasked to lead the design work. It took Ajay probably a year to finalize the integrated circuit that supports USB technology.
Therefore, it could be said that Ajay Bhatt was the inventor of the USB, although it is more than likely a team effort. Ajay did not lock himself in a garage for months and came out with the technology himself.
Despite having created such a major invention, Ajay Bhatt did not make a single cent out of it, as the patent is owned by Intel and not him. However, Ajay did not make a fuss about it. Instead, he has registered over 100 patents for his inventions.
Ajay Bhatt also won the European Inventor Award in 2013 in the Non-European category. He was also winner of the Outstanding Achievement in Science & Technology Award at the Asian Awards in 2013.
Who Invented The USB Drive?
There are three possible claimants to the invention of the USB Flash Drive. First is an Israeli by the name of Dov Moran. Second is a Singaporean tech firm named Trek2000 International. The third claimant is Phua Khein-Seng, a Malaysian who invented the USB Drive and then marketed it under the brand Pendrive.
One of the most significant contributions of USB is the creation of the USB flash drive, allowing us to store and rewrite files on a stick and carry it around. We are no longer hostage to compact discs, diskettes, and bulky hard drives.
USB Drives may have more chaotic and conflicting claims about their inventors, unlike the USB itself. There were three major claimants to the creation of the USB drive.
Some credited the invention of the USB flash drive to an Israeli technologist named Dov Moran. He founded a tech company M-systems in 1989, and the company claims to have invented the USB drive in 1999.
The second claim comes from Singapore. It was claimed that Trek2000 International was the first company to invent the USB Flash Drive and was also the first to sell it.
Finally, the third claimant is a Malaysian named Phua Khein-Seng. He was the CEO of Phison Electronics, based in Taiwan. He had invented the USB Flash Drive, which was marketed as Pendrive.
Who Currently Owns The USB Patent?
The current USB patent is owned by Intel. Intel owns the parent because it was the employer of Ajay Bhatt, despite Ajay being the original inventor of the USB. However, Intel decided to keep the technology open and enforce no royalties for the public good.
Ajay Bhatt invented the USB while working with Intel. As a result, the USB patent comes into Intel’s ownership. Intel registered the patent in 1995 and was granted a full patent in 1997.
This may sound unfair, but this is common practice in many cases. In many employment contracts, there are usually stipulations that if anything proprietary were invented, the employer owns the rights to it.
However, Intel was graceful with its own patent. It decided to keep the technology open and did not enforce any royalties on companies that decided to use it. This is an attempt to encourage the adoption of the USB standard and the public good.
If Intel collects royalties on USB, we may not see inventions like USB flash drives. In fact, we may now be using another free technology instead of the USB.