- BBC World News
For many, the word wifi has become one of the first to be pronounced when we first enter a site.
Be it the house of friends, a restaurant or a waiting room, asking if there is Wi-Fi and what is its password is almost a new routine to make sure that we can be connected to the internet at all times.
But have you ever wondered where does this word come from, which was originally written as Wi-Fi, and that over time and use became the common noun wifi?
Although due to its similarity to Hi-Fi (the abbreviation in English for High Fidelity or high fidelity, in Spanish) one might think that the term is derived from Wireless Fidelity, that is, of the fidelity of the wireless signal, the word wifi is a invention that has nothing to do with it.
As revealed in 2005 by Phil Belanger, one of the founding members of the Wi-Fi Alliance, the company that gave rise to Wi-Fi, the word it means absolutely nothing: was born simply as a result of a marketing strategy.
The term Wi-Fi, as well as the black and white logo similar to the Chinese ying yang symbol, were created by the marketing agency. Interbrand, which was responsible for the launch of the brand and presented to the Wi-Fi Alliance 10 possible names for them to choose one.
“We needed something that was a bit more catchy than ‘IEEE 802.11 b Direct Sequence,” explained Belanger.
Confusion as to the meaning of the name of this wireless communications standard appears to have arisen as a result of the company adding the line “The standard for wireless fidelity” at the beginning in its promotions, as members of the board of directors did not trust it. use a made-up name that was not associated with any meaning.
They later recognized that adding this text had been a mistake, says Belanger, and they removed this explanatory phrase.
Relatively new invention
The Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (now Wi-Fi Alliance), which gave rise to Wi-Fi, was formed in September 1999, with six companies. Currently there are about 800 who are part of the group.
But before this system that transmits information by radio waves (which uses frequencies between 2 and 5 gigahertz of the electromagnetic spectrum) was born, there were other inventions and efforts that made this form of communication possible.
One of the most remarkable efforts was born out of the effort and intelligence of Hedy Lamarr, an acclaimed Hollywood star of the 1940s who, in addition to faking his first orgasm in a movie, was a technological genius.
During World War II, the actress developed a radio guided torpedo system that prevented them from being detected by the enemy, and the technology of frequency hopping spread spectrum that ended up giving rise to the first Wi-Fi connection standard (IEEE 802.11) in 1997.
Another important step in the establishment of this technology took place in the early 1970s, when a wireless network called ALOHAnet, which demonstrated that data could be sent wirelessly between the Hawaiian Islands.
And, in 1991, according to the magazine New Scientist, the NCR corporation and AT&T, created the forerunner of Wi-Fi as a way to connect cash registers, called WaveLAN.
This technology – whose potential was not immediately appreciated in its beginnings – became so popular that the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE, for its acronym in English) created the 802.11 standard that today we call Wi-Fi and which is crucial for communications.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.