At the end of the 1990's coax based 10 Mbit/s Ethernet was the network technology most companies used at the time, including the one I worked for then. It was also there that I held the first 802.11 wireless network card in my hand. The brand was Orinoco, the company that produced it was Lucent and it could transfer data at a whooping speed of 1 and 2 Mbit/s, just a tiny fraction of what is possible now. Today, 'Wi-Fi card' would be the term used by most but Wi-Fi cards to be plugged into PCs are mostly a thing of the past as most devices now have a Wi-Fi chip and antenna built-in. Gone are also the days when Wi-Fi connectivity was expensive. For less than 10 euros one can buy an 802.11n Wi-Fi USB dongle these days for the few devices that are not Wi-Fi equipped yet.
So much for the history part of this blog entry. I'm writing all of this because I recently realized that I have over 15 Wi-Fi enabled devices at home these days that are in frequent use. There's my notebook of course that I work with every day, a test notebook to try out new things, a notebook mostly used for video streaming, at least 3 smartphones, my spouse's notebook and her 2 smartphones, a Raspberry Pi for audio streaming to the 20 year old Hifi set in the corner, the access point itself, a second access point that also acts as an Ethernet switch and 2 Wi-Fi enabled printers. In addition to these devices that are in use all the time there are at least half a dozen Wi-Fi USB dongles that are occasionally put into good use with about as many Raspbery Pis for various purposes.
Quite an extraordinary development when I think back to this first and hyper-expensive Orinoco wireless LAN card I once held in my hands for the first time and marveled at how it is possible to transfer data so quickly over the air with just such a 'little' card.