Vorbis is a free and open-source software project headed by the Xiph.Org Foundation. The project produces an audio coding format and software reference encoder/decoder (codec) for lossy audio compression. Vorbis is most commonly used in conjunction with the Ogg container format and it is therefore often referred to as Ogg Vorbis.
Vorbis is a continuation of audio compression development started in 1993 by Chris Montgomery. Intensive development began following a September 1998 letter from the Fraunhofer Society announcing plans to charge licensing fees for the MP3 audio format. The Vorbis project started as part of the Xiphophorus company's Ogg project (also known as OggSquish multimedia project). Chris Montgomery began work on the project and was assisted by a growing number of other developers. They continued refining the source code until the Vorbis file format was frozen for 1.0 in May 2000. Originally licensed as LGPL, in 2001 the Vorbis license was changed to the BSD license to encourage adoption with endorsement of Richard Stallman. A stable version (1.0) of the reference software was released on July 19, 2002.
The Xiph.Org Foundation maintains a reference implementation, libvorbis. There are also some fine-tuned forks, most notably aoTuV, that offer better audio quality, particularly at low bitrates. These improvements are periodically merged back into the reference codebase.