When Was Wireless Internet Invented?

Wireless internet.

Invented back in 1991, Wi-Fi has become a part of our lexicon today. Short for wireless fidelity, Wi-Fi is a wireless internet technology connecting all modern devices. This networking tech is compatible with everything from smartphones and IPads to game consoles to PCs. 

“The Father of Wi-Fi”

This system was first invented by NCR Corporation/AT&T in Nieuwegein, the Netherlands. Wi-Fi was initially designed to connect cashier machines over a wireless signal. Vic Hayes is widely regarded as the creator and has been monikered “the father of Wi-Fi.” He and his team developed a frequency wave system to carry data. 

Even today, this technology functions under the same basic principle. When you connect devices over a Wi-Fi system, they communicate using a wireless signal. Data goes through this high-frequency signal/radio wave. 802.11 is the standard Wi-Fi connection frequency. The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and Wi-Fi Alliance is responsible for the rules. They regulate the frequencies/standards as well as radio stations. 

Evolution of Wi-Fi

Hayes and his team were responsible for developing the 802.11 standards, which form the base of modern Wi-Fi networks. WLANs, or Wireless Local Area Networks, emerged from the creation of IEEE802.11. These standards were used to demarcate the communication of WLANs. Hayes headed the IEEE committee when this was developed back in 1997. 

Within two years, prototype routers using this standard were ready. Devices that complied with IEEE802.11 were introduced for domestic use in 1999. Since then, there have been several improvements and updates. For example, standards like 802.11a, 802.11g, and 802.11b are common network bandwidths today. For example

1999: Apple Inc. adopts Wi-Fi for their iBook laptop series. This is the first mass consumer product to offer Wi-Fi network connectivity. The company calls it AirPort.

2003: 802.11g became standard around this time. This version was an upgrade from earlier models and provided faster internet. This standard also had a wider area coverage in comparison. The 802.11g routers also had more power than the classic 802.11 setups. 

2009: Standard 802.11n was most commonly used around this time. This frequency was an improvement from its predecessor. 802.11n possessed the ‘Multiple Input Multiple Output’ data (MIMOs) systems. This design allowed users to receive and share data using multiple antennas. The MIMO setup attributed to significant increases in data speed. These could be achieved without a higher bandwidth or transmitting power.

2012: The 2010s saw the rise of 5Ghz. Bluetooth devices and other appliances were simultaneously using the 2.4 Ghz range, making it crowded. Users naturally gravitated towards 5 GHz. The 801.11ac standard was created to improve the 5Ghz range.

In addition to 4X faster internet speed, it also had more MIMO antennas. Moreover, beamforming or targetted broadcasting signals were also introduced around this time.’

2020: Wi-Fi 6, released in 2020, aims for faster connectivity and higher stability. This system boasts a connection speed of up to 9.6 Gbps, a 300% increase from the previous model. In addition, routers for Wi-Fi 6 can communicate and exchange data simultaneously from multiple sources at once. 

How Wi-Fi Works

The router is at the heart of the Wi-Fi setup. No wireless network can function without the router. This device must be physically connected to the internet by an ethernet cable. The task of the wireless is simple – it broadcasts high-frequency radio signals carrying data to and fro from the internet. 

Your device has an inbuilt adapter that picks up and reads this signal. Data is also shared via the router from your smart device to the internet. Simply put, Wi-Fi works by directing broadband internet into a machine using wireless radio signals. 


Since its inception in 1997, Wi-Fi has evolved and become an irreplaceable part of the modern lifestyle. However, this network technology has come a long way since its humble beginnings. Recent developments like the Internet of Things have expanded the scope of this technology. These advancements prove that the potential of Wi-Fi is endless.

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March 14, 2023

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