The Wireless Technology We All Take for Granted: A Brief History
At any given moment in a grocery store, on a university campus, inside a coffee shop–pick almost anywhere you please, and you are likely surrounded with wireless technology. In a crowd, try to count how many people are text messaging or having a conversation on their mobile phones; consider how many times you hop into your car and switch on the radio, unthinking. Each of these devices which we now take for granted has a rich history we rarely stop to consider.
One of the earliest wireless technological advances our world experienced was the invention of the radio. The history of the radio is indisputably complex, especially because no one really knows who can lay claim to its invention. The reality is that a number of scientists contributed to the development of the radio and the scientific details which make transmission of sound over radio possible.
Among them are Thomas Edison, Heinrich Rudolph Hertz, Alexander Popov, Ernest Rutherford, and Nikola Tesla. Speaking in more official terms, Nikola Tesla initially held the patent for radio technology and was re-awarded that same patent by the United State Supreme Court in 1943, following his death. It is upon his experiments and lectures regarding alternating current and, “The True Wireless,” that many subsequent inventors and scientists built.
While theories for mobile phone operation existed as soon as the late 1940’s, they did not come to fruition until the 1950’s and ’60’s. In 1956, a fully operational mobile phone was produced and released in Sweden for sale to the public. The MTA, as it was called, was a far cry from the phone you slip into your back pocket today. In fact, it weighed in at a whopping ninety pounds, and it took nearly ten years to introduce the MTB, which had been cut down to twenty pounds.
On April 3rd, 1973, Motorola made headlines as employee Martin Cooper made a phone call on an early prototype of the DynaTAC to the Head of Research at Bell Labs (the developmental sector of AT&T) while taking a stroll down a street in New York City as reporters watched and listened.
However, it was another decade before the handheld Motorola_Dyna 8000X was released to the public, but even the earliest marketed mobile phones were meant to be permanently installed in an automobile, leading to the term, “car phone.” Eventually Motorola triumphed again when it released the first truly portable cellular phones a few years later.
Ultimately technology advanced bit by bit, competition increased, and now we have cellular phones in the “third generation,” stage, which can do everything from basic calling to allowing you to surf the web, check your e-mail, read the news, document your calendar, and so on. It is only a matter of time before your mobile phone can make your coffee in the morning.
The internet is one of the most ethereal, pervasive and indispensable technologies of our day. Its creation began as an initiative for simpler networking among computers at research facilities and universities. This initiative began with ARPANET in 1969; it began by creating a network link between the computers at UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute.
Within two months, they were able to expand the network to include the University of Utah and the University of California at Santa Barbara. By 1981, 213 hosts were connected to this network.
In the realm of public access networks, CompuServe was the first company to offer electronic mail as early as 1979, and by 1980, they had already developed real-time instant messaging capabilities.
The internet as we know it came into existence when ARPANET, among a number of other similar networks, merged with public access networks (such as the one CompuServe tapped into) to transition into a national network. The World Wide Web, though often mistaken for a synonym of the internet itself, was another initiative to ease the retrieval of information and files on this expansive network.
There were other projects which sought to accomplish the same thing–like Gopher and WAIS–but, like the Blu-Ray Disc is beginning to quash DVDs, the World Wide Web pulled ahead of the others as the most workable solution.
This has been a quick peek into the history of some of the wireless technology we enjoy today. So, the next time you retrieve your mobile phone from your pocket, be sure to thank heaven it doesn’t weigh ninety pounds.