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Norman Abramson, Pioneer Behind Wireless Networks, Dies at 88

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Norman Abramson in the mid-1970s, when he headed a group that developed the ALOHAnet, an early wireless data network.

Wireless computer network pioneer Norman Abramson died Dec. 1 at his home in San Francisco.

Credit: Rose de Heer

Norman Abramson, the leader of a group of scientists and engineers who pioneered the development of wireless computer networks, died on Dec. 1 at his home in San Francisco. He was 88.

The cause was skin cancer that had metastasized to his lungs, his son, Mark, said.

Professor Abramson's project at the University of Hawaii was originally designed to transmit data to schools on the far-flung Hawaiian islands by means of a radio channel. But the solution he and his group devised in the late 1960s and early '70s would prove widely applicable; some of their technology is still in use in today's smartphones, satellites and home WiFi networks.

The technology they created allowed many digital devices to send and receive data over that shared radio channel. It was a simple approach that did not require complex scheduling of when each packet of data would be sent. If a data packet was not received, it was simply sent again. The approach was a departure from telecommunications practices at the time, but it worked.


From The New York Times
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