Wireless packet exchange you say…

While I was reading Hawaiian Lei of Shrunken Heads I remembered something interesting.  Well, interesting if you’re a network geek.

Nowadays almost everyone has WiFi.  When I first set up a wireless network in my house back in the late 90s it was pretty cutting edge technology, now even refrigerators can use it to communicate with whatever the heck it is that fridges need to communicate with.  My house is probably filled with various signals.  I find the signals keep the crazy people out.

But I digress.

Back when I was still actively studying and teaching computer networking we went over some of the precursors to current network technologies.  Among other technologies we discussed packet switching technologies, CSMACA (anyone remember that one?), CSMACD, Ethernet, Token Ring, various network cable grades and a little know, seldom discussed network technology that went online in 1971 and provided the first public example of a wireless network.

That network’s name was ALOHAnet and it was created at the University of Hawaii.  Some of the basic technologies surrounding ALOHAnet live on in other wireless technologies like WiFi and various cell phone data standards.  So, there you go.  Wireless networking, the stuff I thought was cutting edge in the late 90s had already been creeping around in Hawaii for decades before I plugged my first WAP into an Ethernet network in my office and thought I was James Bond because I could surf the web from my couch.


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