Utrecht, The Netherlands
October 13, 2011
In the last few days, many have lauded Steve Jobs for his vision and leadership that changed how people use computers, how they consume personal media, and how they communicate with each other. Everyone knows about i-Books, i-Phones, i-Pods and i-Pads.
What is much less known is the fact that Steve Jobs was the godfather of Wi-Fi.
Without Steve Jobs, we might still be plugging our laptops into Ethernet jacks. His personal drive and vision gave wireless Internet its form. How did this happen?
It all began after Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1996 and his decision to venture from just serving the desktop market to entering the laptop space as well: hence the Apple i-Book was conceived.
However, Steve Jobs would not be Steve Jobs if he was not searching for unique differentiators – and so I received a call from one of his lieutenants to come to Cupertino and present wireless LANs.
At that time, I was working for Lucent Technologies as the General Manager of the Wireless LAN Division. Located in The Netherlands, we were developing and selling the WaveLAN wireless LAN product line with moderate success, but in limited volumes. The applications were very niche oriented: retail point-of-sale, hospitals or schools. At that time, WaveLAN was a separate add-on card and very much a curiosity.
Of course we had tried to go mainstream and negotiated to be integrated into laptops from Dell, Toshiba and others, but the costs were too high and the applications were too limited. There was no vision of a mobile connected world like we have today. We heard the same pushback – “Everyone has Ethernet ports, who needs wireless?”
The Lucent team originally launched the first WaveLAN products in 1991 and had been trying to team up with the PC manufacturers, as integrated wireless connectivity seemed such a no-brainer. But no one got it. There was no spark. There was no dream of the “anywhere anytime” data connection.
This all changed with that single call.
More at http://www.eetimes.com/
Cees Links is President & Founder of GreenPeak (http://www.greenpeak.com), and Marketing Chair for the ZigBee RF4CE Alliance (http://www.zigbee.org).
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Cees Links is President & Founder of GreenPeak (http://www.greenpeak.com)