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Inspiring: Why Ajay Bhatt Invented USB But Never Made Any Money Out Of It

You’re working and suddenly you realize you have somewhere to go to. You save your work, but you want to resume later. You save it in a USB and just take it with you wherever you’re going.  None of this seems odd, does it? That’s because we are so used to the wonderful technology around us. But, your work wasn’t always this portable.

Let’s look at the journey of the man behind this innovation.

Ajay Bhatt, a graduate from Maharaj Sayajirao University in Baroda, is now a well-known name in the Silicon Valley. In 2010, he made it to GQ India’s list of ‘The 50 Most Influential Global Indians.’ Bhatt, who is Intel’s Chief Architect and Fellow for the Client Computing Group, already has 31 patents under his name. However, the USB isn’t one of them. He never made any money out of it.

Despite being the co-inventor of USB, he became a recognizable face among the masses only after a TV ad, in 2009, where he was portrayed as a rock star. After that, he says people would really treat him like a celebrity.

Ajay intended the idea to bring about a change, and not make tonne of money. Intel, who owns the patent, also decided to make it open and royalty-free, right from the start. That is why today, it is affordable for us.

Just like a lot of great innovations, the idea for this device came from a problem he faced every day. He found the process of connecting cables, rebooting the system and handling the device software exhausting. Every time a document needed to be printed, this long process took up a lot of time.

With a goal to solve this problem, Bhatt started working with his team on it in 1992. By 1996, their first set of products was ready. However, the process was far from over.

Despite the device helping create a single connection across computers, the idea was hard to sell. Even the management at Intel did not initially like his idea. He re-worked his idea a few times before the company approved it.

After that, along with his team, he lobbied to various computer firms to review and enhance the work experience. He says that the company tried to work with each computer firm to understand how it could be adapted to make their functioning better.

This helped evolve the idea as each company tried to contribute to the idea by looking at their vantage point.

Apple first shipped a USB compatible product for the users of the iMac G3 in 1998 and soon after Microsoft too added it for the second edition of Windows 98. Once the big names started endorsing the idea, it was only a matter of time before the product found its way into almost each and every home across the world.

He says the product’s success is only because of the constant innovation and the encouragement of those who believed in the technology. He says that seeing its utility today, he feels happy that everybody could benefit out of it.

He feels the contentment that he gets out of seeing his idea and vision helping out millions across the world today is great. He is glad that money making was never a part of it.

To others who wish to follow his path, he advises them to be fearless and to persist in their journey. He believes that it is possible to turn the impossible into reality, if only you use your imagination to its fullest.

If you have that, the only thing that you need for success, is the right timing, he says. To anyone who is struggling with their idea, he says that one should always think that the best is yet to come.


Share this with all your tech savvy friends and spread his inspirational story around.

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