WaveLAN: the tech that brought Wi-Fi to the world

Collin Arocho
Reading time: 9 minutes

Wi-Fi, one of the most recognizable technologies on the planet, turns 20 this year. While Steve Jobs and Apple had a hand in bringing it to the masses, the building blocks of the world-renowned technology sprouted from right here in the Netherlands. One of its founding fathers, Bruce Tuch, discusses the journey from the early days of the Dutch-developed WaveLAN to the globally recognized Wi-Fi.

It was 1985 when the American Federal Communications Committee (FCC) authorized new rules for spread spectrum. In radio communications, spread spectrum techniques are used to distribute a signal across a frequency domain, which results in a wider bandwidth. This wider bandwidth helps secure communications while also reducing interference or noise.

“I could have never imagined while working at NCR Nieuwegein on this feasibility study, what this seed would eventually grow into,” recollects Bruce Tuch. Tuch, the former CTO at WCND Nieuwegein (formerly NCR Systems Engineering) was a core developer of WaveLAN, the predecessor of Wi-Fi. At the WaveLAN20 symposium in the Utrecht suburb, he came to celebrate 20 years of Wi-Fi and reunite with many of the others that contributed to the world-altering technology.

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