The History of Wireless Networking


The history of wireless networks and of wireless networking goes hand in hand. Without the discovery of technology such as the radio, wireless technology would not exist at all today. The history of wireless networking goes as far back as the 1800’s with the advent of radio waves. The advent of more technology grew throughout the years and expanded to what we communicated with today.

In 1888, a Hamburg, Germany born physicist named Heinrich Rudolf Herz produced his first radio wave ever. By 1894 this radio wave production became a way of communication. Telegraph wires were used to receive the radio waves in signal form. Herz opened the way for radio, television, and radar with his discovery of electromagnetic waves. An Italian inventor named Marchese Guglielmo Marconi then expanded the radius of radio wave sending to two miles, becoming the “father of the radio.” By 1899, this form of telecommunication could travel pretty far for its time. Marconi could send a signal 9 miles across the Bristol Channel. He eventually expanded the radius to 31 miles across the English Channel to France. By 1901 the communication area became immense. Marconi could send signals across the entire Atlantic Ocean.

World War II became a big stepping stone for the radio wave. The United States was the first party to use radio waves for data transmission during the war. This use of radio waves could have quite possibly won the war for the Americans. The use of radio wave data communication lead to a lot of speculation to whether the radio signals could be expanded into something bigger than it currently was. In 1971, a group of researchers under the lead of Norman Abramson, at the University of Hawaii, created the first “packet-switched” radio communications network entitled “Alohanet.” Alohanet was the first wireless local area network, otherwise known as a WLAN. The first WLAN was not much, but it was a large discovery. The Alohanet WLAN was comprised of seven computers that communicated to each other. In 1972, Alohanet connected with the WLAN system Arpanet on the mainland. This length of connect was ground breaking in telecommunications between computers.

The first types of WLAN technology used an interface in which became over crowded for communication. Small appliances and industrial machinery caused interference so the technology had to be updated. The second type of WLAN technology to be released ended up being four times faster than its predecessor at 2Mbps per second. We use the third format of WLAN today, though our current WLAN system runs at the same speed as the second system released.

In 1990, the 802.11 Working Group was established to work towards a WLAN standard for all computers to communicate from. In 1997, IEEE 802.11 was accepted as the standard data communication format for wireless local area networks. The technology continues to grow today. Governments and large corporations are constantly looking out for the latest and fastest standard to work from.

The expansion of wireless networking will likely continue for decades to come.

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