His impact on technology :
For technophiles, Hawaii is more than just a great place to surf — it’s also the birthplace of wireless LAN technology. Norm Abramson’s claim to fame lies in his achievements with the ALOHAnet, the first wireless local area network. Designed and developed by Abramson at the University of Hawaii, the ALOHAnet was the first network to transmit data successfully using radio signals — a fundamental technological breakthrough.
While Hawaii may be better known for its natural beauty than for its technological inventions, it actually makes sense that the wireless network was born there. Data transmission and IT resource sharing among the university’s campuses, spread across the state’s many islands, was essential. Abramson’s ALOHAnet used high-speed data packets, known as ALOHA channels, to transmit data over radio frequencies. ALOHA channels in particular have proved to be resilient technology, used in every generation of mobile broadband, from 1G to 4G.
Abramson’s ALOHAnet and its packet broadcast technology was a revolutionary advance over the switched-circuit data technologies of the time. Robert Metcalfe, who went on to develop Ethernet, spent considerable time with Abramson, studying the way that the ALOHAnet used data packets. Ironically, Abramson’s wireless technology helped lay the foundation for Metcalfe’s wired technology.
Where is he now?
Until his retirement, Abramson continued to work on the ALOHA protocols and packet broadcasting technologies in a commercial capacity as founder and CEO of Aloha Networks and Skyware. Now living in San Francisco, Abramson continues his research in ALOHA applications and communication theory, and spends his time writing and speaking about the history of ALOHAnet, he said to BizTechmagazine.
Words of wisdom :
“It was becoming apparent that the existing telephone network architecture was not well suited to the rapidly emerging data networking needs of the 1970s. Indeed, it would have been surprising had such a network architecture, shaped by the requirements of voice communications at the end of the 19th century, been compatible with the emerging requirements of data communication networks at the end of the 20th century.’” — Norm Abramson on the need for a new data network in his “Development of the ALOHAnet” IEEE paper