To be fair, Wi-Fi has has many ‘founding parents’ – such as Vic Hayes and even Hollywood bombshell Hedy Lamarr. While the technical birthplace of Wi-Fi could reasonably be said to be The Netherlands – where most of the initial work on the 802.11 standards took place with NCR – it would also be fair to say that the commercial birth of Wi-Fi harks back to a meeting at Apple Computer in Cupertino, California, on April 20, 1998.
The world’s first Wi-Fi-enabled laptop was launched by Apple at MacWorld in New York City on July 21, 1999. Jobs demonstrated wireless Internet by walking about on stage with the laptop in his hand and – like a magician – passing the iBook through a hula hoop while the crowd cheered.
And the rest – as they say – is history.
I was at that launch. The company I was working for at the time really wanted to have wifi-enabled laptops but the cost for cards and access points was prohibitively expensive – wifi wasn’t something for consumers at the time. I came back from Macworld Expo and told them they should invest in “this new Apple stuff. It’s going to blow up the world of laptops and internet access”. Of course, they ignored me.
The above story links to a (poorly written but still interesting) PDF written by Cees Links. The Apple segment begins on page 105.