As it turns out, you really are saying “Aloha” every time you send a text or make a call using your mobile phone. AlohaNet, the technology that paved the way for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and mobile phone networks, got its start in June 1971 at the University of Hawaii.

The birth of AlohaNet

In the late 1960s, a team under the direction of professor Norman Abramson began researching ways to use radio communications instead of telephone communications to connect computers. The initial goal for AlohaNet was to connect University of Hawaii campuses across the various islands. What the team created was a random-access channel architecture — what is referred to today as an ALOHA channel.

AlohaNet worked by sending “packets” of information across the network, as soon as information was available to send (hence the “random”). Occasionally, packets would collide, but terminals were programmed to resend them.

At first, AlohaNet was operated entirely within the state of Hawaii. But by 1973, the team had used a VHF transponder in a NASA satellite to connect to NASA in California, as well as five universities in the U.S., Australia, and Japan. The team also used a commercial Comsat channel to link to ARPANet.

AlohaNet’s impact surprises everyone

“We thought that what we were doing would be important, but I don’t think any of us thought it would be as important as it turned out to be,” Abramson told StateTech magazine in 2016.“ It exceeded my wildest expectations.”

Also exceeding anyone’s expectations: the potential for cybersecurity shenanigans over Wi-Fi. This National Cybersecurity Awareness Month check up on your home network to make sure it’s secure, and also remind your friends and family to stay vigilant on public networks.

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Kate Johanns

Posted by Kate Johanns

Kate Johanns is a communications professional and freelance writer with more than 13 years of experience in publishing and marketing.

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