Norman Abramson, the wireless network dad, dies at 88

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The first public demonstration of a wireless packet data network, ALOHAnet, was

Norman Abramson, one of the pioneers of wireless computer networks, has died at the age of 88. A former professor at the University of Hawaii, Abramson’s work laid the foundations for the modern wireless communication technologies we know and use today. Abramson passed at his home in San Francisco on December 1, due to skin cancer which had metastasized to his lungs.

Early in his tenure as a professor, Abramson was tasked with finding a way of transferring data between Hawaiian islands and the United States using radio technology. From this initial project, he went on to create ALOHAnet – an early wireless network which contributed to the development of modern wireless communication technologies, as well as Ethernet-based information transmission.

Abramson’s early innovations are still put to use today in smartphones, satellites, and home Wi-Fi networks. The technology reportedly became so widespread because Abramson and his team were keen to share it, and welcomed other scientists to their lab in Hawaii.

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According to The New York Times, Abramson’s cause of death was skin cancer which had metastasized to his lungs. He died at his home in San Francisco on December 1.

David Lassner, University of Hawaii president, said: “There are very few people who had as significant an impact as Norm on the way the entire planet communicates and shares information today. Norm linked the islands of Hawaii to each other and to the world, leaving a legacy at UH and beyond through his ideas and his students.”

It’s hard to imagine a world without wireless communication, and we have Norman Abramson to thank for the role he played in connecting the world.

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