ThunderBolt - or Light Peak as the technology was originally called - was invented by Intel in 2009 and was intended to be a purely optical physical transfer that would combine LAN and USB stik in one. Due to existing technologies, Intel, in collaboration with Apple, were able to develop Light Peak to ThunderBolt. In early 2011, the ThunderBolt connector entered the market for the first time in Apple's MacBook Pro.
With ThunderBolt, you get incredibly high data transfer compared to USB. ThunderBolt 2 supports transfers up to 40Gbps. The cable can be used to connect anything from external hard drives and your iPhone or iPad to a camera or wireless connection.