Invention of wi-fi

Positive change comes from inspiring others to imagine a different way of doing things, and from appealing to people’s hearts as well as their heads. Scientists, creative artists, educators and thinkers are often in the vanguard of change. 

The development of wireless network connectivity, or wi-fi, in the 1990s revolutionised the way we communicate. Wi-fi affects how we live, work, play, travel, even how we imagine and create solutions to new problems faced by humanity.

A wireless local access network (WLAN) was invented and patented by scientists at the CSIRO, Australia's national science agency, building on earlier work to interpret radio signals. The key breakthrough was discovering how computers could talk to one another without cables, and without signals becoming distorted by bouncing off walls and furniture.

Wi-fi has been recognised internationally as one of Australia’s greatest scientific achievements.

O'Sullivan and his team ... ushered in the age of high-speed, always-on wireless connectivity we enjoy today.

– European Inventor Award 2012

'People didn't believe it was possible': Dr Terry Percival

This story is featured in National Archives's exhibition Disrupt persist invent: Australians in an ever-changing world.