History of WiFi

When you imagine the first wireless connection, you would be certain to assume it took place in uptown Silicon Valley or maybe in a garage of some 23-year-old high school dropout.

But no! The first wireless connection (called wireless data packet transfer) took place in Hawaii, across the warm, peaceful beaches of Honolulu.

In 1971, the University of Hawaii completed the first ever wireless data packet transfer (not WiFi yet) without satellite or connected cables using a new technology called Ultra High Frequency radio waves (ooh!) connecting 7 computers spread across the Pacific islands of Hawaii.

Although slow and limited, this marked the start of the wireless connection.

As the years rolled on and through the 80s – ah hello Internet – and into the 90s It was not until 1997 that the WiFi was first introduced for consumers in the form of a WLAN (wireless local network) version IEEE 8.02.11. It was impossibly slow, running at a maximum speed of 2mbps – far too weak for most appliances and virtually impossible to to do anything online.

In 1999, WiFi was first introduced for home use followed quickly by a new update to the IEEE standard now running at up to 54 Mbps, but it was expensive to build hardware to run at this speed and you have to be so close to the box you are virtually inside it to connect.

Bang 2002! And the super duper cool phrase WiFi was invented by the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance a blend of Wireless and Hi-Fi. They were so happy with this new term they change their name to the much cooler Wi-Fi alliance. Hello, WiFi.

Over the early 2000s new standards are set by the Wi-Fi alliance, new mobile companies emerged and tendered to this booming market and in 2009 – the 1 billionth WiFi chipset is sold – WiFi was everywhere.

We now live, in 2020, in a digitalised world with WiFi as its core. 432 million global hotspots. Everything is online, everything uses WiFi – your phone, laptop, computer, lights, alarm clock, kettle, fruit blender or the Otokio Fork which detects users slurping and plays a masking sound to hide it.

The WiFi world in which we live in today is in very much contrast to the beaches of Honolulu where it first began. Then 7 computers; now have 9 billion WiFi enabled devices.

Since then, the earth’s population has doubled, we have left a century of war and violence and live in the most peaceful time in the history of humankind, the world has changed and while WiFi has been transformed but yet the very practice of how we get connected to this WiFi really hasn’t.

It’s time to Link.