AirPort WiFi Apple-style

26 APR 2018 Apple ceased production of the product line AirPort. This line lasted 18 years and 9 months, and perhaps if it was not, WiFi would not be the most easy-to-use connection technology. But remember the AirPort I decided not because of this. Talking about Mac and the last two years of the last Millennium (1999 and 2000) and the beginning of our, about the AirPort having to mention almost constantly – and not to change the subject, be limited to an explanation “this WiFi”. It was much more interesting.

Apple has nothing to do with the invention of wireless communications, or even to the creation of the IEEE 802.11 standard, and it defines the protocols in 1997. Wire ties were used in the nineteenth century, before all the technology was wireless communication (speech, writing, signals, fires, drums, cuffs…).

In 1971, the Hawaiian Islands, for communication between the Islands was established a network ALOHAnet (considered the ancient ancestor of Ethernet) and the technology ALOHA (something like Wi-Fi, most likely for the first time in history). To pave hundreds of miles of wires at the bottom of the ocean, and to ensure their safety and serviceability would be too expensive – and then they go “back to basics”. Need made…

Probably, ALOHA was the first time a wireless computer network, although you never know whether something like that to her. In Atlantis or in Ancient Egypt, for example…

Delve into antiquity will not. Maybe some other time.

The phenomenon of AirPort peoples

July 21, 1999, MacWorld Expo in new York. Having introduced the portable iMac, and fill in the last quadrant of the strategic diagram “four quadrant” picture iBook, Steve suddenly remembered the “something else” (One More Thing, classic!).

And for some reason, began to publicly surf the web: Apple, the Online Apple Store (where, among pictures of the offered goods have already appeared a “computer-beautician”), CNN – all the latest news that appeared just…

And that inadvertently, he took the iBook in hand, and raised above the table… it appears not all and not immediately noticed that the “cosmetic” are not connected any wires! It was a shock, a shock comparable to that felt at the sight of a moving horseless carriages.

Wi-Fi has already been, has already called this abbreviation (this is a parody of Hi-Fi, the decryption of this abbreviation came up later), but 99% of those present in the hall had no idea what was going on “at the forefront”, and for them it was a miracle.

The presentation was conducted by the Steve jobs, the camera operator on the shoulder, newborn iBook and hula hooping. The latter was assigned an important role: to prove that between the iBook and the network, and in fact there are no invisible wires. And then you never know…

Artistic. After several hundred Apple Events, staged by Steve jobs, the theatre is not impressive.

Enjoy the delight of the hall, Steve discovered a terrible secret. The mystery was called the AirPod, and a portable iMac (iBook, figuratively), with a body made of rubberized polycarbonate, was the world’s first computer which was AirPort Ready.

Which can be translated as “Ready-to-AirPort”.

Funny status, by the way: it means that the computer is ready for WiFi, but, after all, to the connection through WiFi is not ready. The unity and struggle of opposites? No, to connect to a wireless network “AirPort Ready” the computer was required to perform certain actions. To purchase an AirPort card ($99) and install it into the computer. Place the cable from the antenna was provided.

In the case of the iBook was enough to remove the keyboard (routine operation, very simple), connect the antenna Jack to the card and insert it into the reserved place where it was written why it is here. And… that’s all.

So what?

On the “dark” side, that is, outside the Apple universe WiFi already indulged in more than one month. For a few hundred dollars, you could buy a “receiving station”, how many hundred – “router”, and (usually included with a router and/or station) of the user and the software.

And, spending all-about-all a few minutes, hours or days (as lucky), the advanced user could show the same without iBook, hula Hoop and the guy with the camera. Dancing with a tambourine, the plucking of your own hair and massage your head against the wall for free.

If exaggerating, slightly. About hair and massage.

The vast majority of personal computer users there is no time for a deep dive into the anatomy and physiology of the used equipment, they have other things to do. Civilization demanded hundreds of thousands of professions, and at least one in ten of them is no easier.

But the vast majority are willing to pay for something that turns technology into an easy and comfortable tool to use without having to learn another specialty.

AirPort was the one that people were willing to pay. Yes, it was all for money, what do you think?

AirPort add-on Wi-Fi

Wireless is very simple. In our days everybody knows it. In 1999 about how to make it easily accessible, the tools of wireless communications’t even bother: not before. Will pay someone. Problems of Indians of the Sheriff do not excite.

And why “someone”? The striking difference between Apple’s era of stagnation (when the company was ruled by Scully, Spindler and Amelio): instant reaction to just the opportunity arose to charge people more. Or present to them on a silver platter, to that incredible possibility.

For your own Wi-Fi zone, needed: Internet access (connection to the provider plus the modem or Ethernet cable), and AirPort Base Station. A device that looks like a flying saucer, outside the Apple universe would be called a router, or a router.

In the cosy and original deepening the very first model of a flying saucer (AirPort Base Station), called Graphite, was located the connectors for connection to telephone line (the station was 56k V. 90 modem) and the Ethernet cable (10/100Base-T).

After connecting the station to the existing communication channel, and to the electrical network, the customer received a working Wi-Fi zone. Dancing with a tambourine, despite the efforts of Apple engineers to the end was not eliminated (it was impossible), but in most cases, the station just started to work: within a radius of 20 meters appeared WiFi.

If you do not have the Internet connection device in a WiFi zone, with installed AirPort cards or other cards that are compatible with the wireless station and Lucent RG-1000 (technically, the AirPort was almost identical to that station), was able to communicate with each other.

The AirPort card, too, was not designed by Apple from scratch. A product of the processing of another company’s product Lucent card Lucent WaveLAN/Orinoco Gold PC Card. Map Lucent deprived of antennas and simplified by moving some of the functionality of the computer. In case iBook, for example, was built two antennas for wireless communications, and space is provided for the connection of the AirPort card.

All the necessary hardware and software, were distributed between the card and the computer, and did all the necessary routine operations (setup, initialization, connection, data transfer) without user intervention.

In 99.999% of cases accurately and without problems. Order of magnitude more professional than 99.999% of home-grown experts from the section “so what?”.

AirPort Base Station Graphite cost $ 299. It seems to be cheaper than RG-1000, but even if I’m wrong, not much more expensive. AirPort Card cost $ 99, and thanks to the transfer of a significant part of the functionality of the computer are three times cheaper than its “ancestor.”

Computers that are “ready-to-connect Wi-Fi”, called AirPort Ready. Very soon all the Mac and, except Xserve, AirPort was Ready from birth. Because all Mac in this world produced by Apple and that Apple has decided that it should be inside them. Now it was her problem.

Snow in November

13 November 2001, Apple has made changes in the design of the base station: added one Ethernet output. The new station, as before, seized the Ethernet cable from the ISP, but the device is not ready to work with the AirPort, are not deprived of access to the network.

A new model called Snow (snow). AirPort Base Station “Snow”. For several months, with sales beginning AirPort “November snow”, the Macintosh platform has become the wireless platform in the world.

To describe 19 years of history Apple AirPort I’m not yet…but I promise not to be silent.

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