A Brief History of Wireless Communications

While not quite the dinosaur that telephone booths are, wired communications is rapidly disappearing from our modern day society. Wireless is more convenient, faster and simpler to use and despite what some people believe, it can be secure. But this boon in wireless technology did not just spring up overnight. A lot of people laid the groundwork for the wireless keyboards, headphones, speakers, dimmers, etc. Here are just a few milestones on the path of our decreasing dependence on wired communications.

  • Early 1820s: Electromagnetism is discovered by Hans Christian Ørsted and Andre-Marie Ampere.
  • 1896: Guglielmo Marconi and W.H. Preece send wireless signals over a distance of one-and-three fourths miles on Salisbury Plain. (Early that year Marconi patented an operational wireless telegraph apparatus.)
  • 1906: Lee DeForest patented the first triode amplifier. The first speech wireless transmission was broadcast by Reginald Fessenden.
  • World War II (1941-1945): The war years see the rapid advancement of radio technology. Shortly after the war two papers are published on Information theory. These papers contain the basis of data compression (source encoding) and error detection and correction (channel encoding).
  • 1954: Many Americans get their first glance of a wireless mobile car phone in the movie Sabrina starring Humphrey Bogart, William Holden and Audrey Hepburn. (The first car-based mobile telephone was set up in St. Louis, using ‘push-to-talk’ technology.)
  • 1962: The first communications satellite, Telstar, is launched into orbit. Telstar was a U.S., French, and British collaboration that was the world’s first active communication satellite.
  • 1974: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allocates 40 MHz for cellular telephony.
  • 1982: European GSM and Inmarsat established.
  • 1990: Motorola files and is given permission by the FCC to launch 77 low orbit satellites into orbit.
  • 1994: The FCC licenses the Personal Communications Services spectrum (1.7 to 2.3 GHz) for $7.7 billion.
  • 1998: IBM, Intel, Nokia and Toshiba join forces to develop Bluetooth for the wireless exchange of data between handheld computers or cell phones and stationary computers.

Today as the public has gotten used to the convenience of wireless communications, companies like ours have – out of necessity – had to accommodate this need. Wired technologies, though they will probably never be completely replaced, are simply not practical in a number of situations. Ratpac Dimmers stands on the shoulders of giants and continues to innovate in ways that the early pioneers of wireless communications could not have possibly imagined.

The Harry Potter Light Show 2017

First J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books captured the imagination of children all over the world. After that the books were transformed into blockbuster movies that adults and children from all over the world have enjoyed for years. Now, the story of a student/magician is being translated into a Universal Studios light show that some people say will be a “bone-chilling adventure.” The show, which will launch on June 23, will be the culmination of years of planning by expert light technicians. Universal Studios is counting on this display to be the perfect blending of light, color and music. The music will be scored by Academy Award-winning composer John Williams — who composed the music for the first three Potter films.

The display will be a five-minute show, called “The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle.” This display was inspired by the Wizardry World of Harry Potter ceremonies last year. “We really wanted the guests to have that bone-chilling moment and go, ‘Wow, this is something I’ve never experienced before,’” says Stacey Quinealty, the park’s senior manager of audio and visual production. Universal Studios is no stranger to displays of pop culture references. In the past it has had to coordinate and plan displays such as The Flintstones, The Star Trek Adventure, E.T. Adventure, Back to the Future, etc. However, as technologies develop and change, expectations grow as well.

The light show – which will have audio piped in through a 27.5 surround-sound system – is an example of how light technologies have to be adaptive in the 21st century. Audiences who have come to know and love the Potter books and movies will be expecting visuals that are truly immersive. Ratpac Dimmers provides technologies that are utilized by the makers of such events every day. We understand that the logistics of a venue like Universal Studios are too complicated to accommodate wired lighting fixtures. It is not practical for people who work with enormous displays that must be synchronized in this way to be tethered to old, wired technologies. Quite a bit of state-of-the-art technology is needed to make such experiential events. That is why we take pride in our wireless dimmers, our portable DMX wireless receivers, etc. They make events such as the one that will be held in Universal Studios during the summer of 2017 possible.

So, whether you are a Potter Fan or not, we invite you to look over some of our state-of-the-art technology that experts in the field of lighting use every day due to its simplicity of operation and reliability. Have a fun summer.