Ajay Bhatt is a name you’re likely not familiar with despite the fact that the technology he helped invent is used by billions of people on a daily basis.
Bhatt joined Intel’s chipset architecture team as a senior staff architect in 1990. At that time, computers relied on serial and parallel ports to connect peripherals such as mice, keyboards, printers and joysticks. The ports had a variety of shortcomings including slow transfer rates and the fact that some couldn’t run concurrently.
What’s more, custom drivers and even expansion cards were often needed to get accessories up and running.
To address the matter, Bhatt proposed the creation of a new standard – Universal Serial Bus, or USB – that’d use a single “universal” connector to replace serial and parallel ports. The USB 1.0 Release Candidate debuted in November 1995, addressing virtually every deficiency of the legacy ports.
As Business Insider notes, USB got off to a slow start as technology companies were leery that a new standard would introduce compatibility issues. Intel had few reservations, however, and backed Bhatt’s vision wholeheartedly. It wasn't long before the rest of the industry hopped on the USB bandwagon.
Much of the eventual success of USB is related to Intel’s decision to make it open and free from licensing fees or royalties. As a result, neither Intel nor Bhatt earned any money from the endeavor. Bhatt, who is now Intel’s chief systems technologist, maintains that he’s been handsomely rewarded by his employer as an engineer.