WiFi — The Simple Story

Most of you already know the history of WiFi. There’s only so many ways it can be written and told. This is our version, we’d like to think it’s an easier way to understanding WiFi.

WiFi has now been around for 26 years. The story goes NCR Corporation — a company that deals mainly with cash registers were tired of drilling holes through ceilings and walls every time the department stores changed their layout. So they developed a wireless LAN. NCR also decided that the WLAN technology should have an industry standard. The IEEE 802.11 group then developed this standard so anyone today can afford a WiFi router and connect any portable device to it.

WiFi wasn’t originally known as WiFi. Some people definitely tried to give it some great names — WaveLAN, FlankSpeed, DragonFly, and WECA, IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence. Of course some are valid and they’ve all got a story behind it but imagine saying “Hey Steve! Is the FlankSpeed working?”

The Wi-Fi Alliance defines Wi-Fi as any ‘wireless local area network’ (WLAN). WiFi originally coined the name IEEE 802.11b because it was a product that followed the standards based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. So what does WiFi stand for? Wireless Fidelity? Well, kind of. Not really. Due to an advertising slogan “The Standard for Wireless Fidelity”, many believed Wi-Fi stood for ‘Wireless Fidelity’.

Actually, the term WiFi or Wi-Fi was commercially introduced in 1999. Wi-Fi Alliance had hired Interbrand to come up with a name that was easier to say than ‘IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence’. Interbrand created the name Wi-Fi as a pun on the word Hi-Fi. It was Phil Belanger, a founding member of Wi-Fi Alliance who had the final say.

“Wi-Fi Alliance is a global non-profit industry association — our members are the worldwide network of companies that brings you Wi-Fi.”

WiFi is really just radio signals transmitting frequency from one area to the other. Many believe it has it’s own type of signal but the simple fact is that it’s a technology that allows devices to connect to a wireless LAN network (WLAN) using 2.4ghz and 5ghz radio signals.

More than 3.2 billion people use the Internet today. By 2020, it’s expected that more than 21 billion devices will be connected and most people will own at least 10 wireless devices. How many do you own already?


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