“Wi-Fi is a shining example of how wireless innovation can itself shed the constricting cables of conventional wisdom. At one point it was assumed that when people wanted to use wireless devices for things other than conversation, they’d have to rely on the painstakingly drawn, investment-heavy standards adopted by the giant corporations that rake in the dough through your monthly phone bill. But then some geeks came up with a new communications standard exploiting an unlicensed part of the spectrum (which the wonks at the FCC called ‘junk band,’ stuff designated for techno-flotsam like microwave ovens and cordless phones). It was called 802.11 and only later sexed up with the Wi-Fi moniker,” Steven Levy writes for Newsweek.
“Though the range of signal was usually no more than a few hundred feet or less, Wi-Fi turned out to be a great way to wirelessly extend an Internet connection in the home or office. A new class of activist was born: the bandwidth liberator, with a goal of extending free wireless Internet to anyone venturing within the range of a gratis hotspot. Meanwhile, Apple Computer seized on the idea as a consumer solution, others followed and now Wi-Fi is as common as the modem once was,” Levy writes. Full article here.
Of course, for Mac users, Wi-Fi is old hat. Mac users have been using it since July 1999.