The USB 1.0 specification was introduced in 1996. It was intended to replace the multitude of connectors at the back of PCs, as well as to simplify software configuration of communication devices. The original USB 1.0 specification had a data transfer rate of 12 Mbit/s.
USB was created by a core group of companies that consisted of Intel, Compaq, Microsoft, Digital, IBM, and Northern Telecom. Intel produced the UHCI host controller and open software stack; Microsoft produced a USB software stack for Windows and co-authored the OHCI host controller specification with National Semiconductor and Compaq; Philips produced early USB-Audio; and TI produced the most widely used hub chips. One of the co-inventors of the USB was Ajay Bhatt, who was later given credit in a television ad for Intel.
The USB 2.0 specification was released in April 2000 and was standardized by the USB-IF at the end of 2001. Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Lucent Technologies (now Alcatel-Lucent following its merger with Alcatel in 2006), Microsoft, NEC, and Philips jointly led the initiative to develop a higher data transfer rate, 480 Mbit/s, than the 1.0 specification of 12 Mbit/s.
The USB 3.0 specification was released on November 17, 2008 by the USB 3.0 Promoter Group. It has a transfer rate of up to 10 times faster than the USB 2.0 version and has been dubbed the SuperSpeed USB.