Geek Trivia

Wi-Fi Derives Its Name From What Source?

Naming Lottery
Radio Standards
Lab Procedures
In The Lord Of The Rings, Who Bore The One Ring For The Longest Period Of Time?
Colorful vintage Motorola advertisement for a hi-fi stereo system

Answer: Speakers

Known originally simply by its technical designation IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence, Wi-Fi technology was a technology in need of a catchy name. In 1999, the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA) hired the brand-consulting firm Interbrand to come up with a memorable name for the soon to be ubiquitous communication protocol.

Of all the proposed names, WECA selected Wi-Fi, a play on the stereo term hi-fi—high fidelity—the high-quality reproduction of sound via well-engineered stereo components and speakers. High-fidelity home equipment, like that seen in the vintage Motorola advertisement here, was common throughout the mid-to-late 20th century. Other almost-adopted names pitched by Interbrand included Hornet, Trapeze, Skybridge, and Dragonfly.

Initially, there was no attempt made to explain what Wi-Fi meant. In response to consumer curiosity, the Wi-Fi Alliance (previously WECA), added a tagline to their advertising that read “The Standard for Wireless Fidelity”. The tagline was dropped shortly after it was introduced and all references to Wi-Fi having anything to do, play on words or otherwise, with high-fidelity sound vanished. The current stance of the Wi-Fi Alliance is that Wi-Fi has no definition and is simply a name.