This is the big one. It started in 1991 with a wireless protocol created by the NCR Corporation in the Netherlands. With a slow data rate, it was intended for use with cashier systems. Scientists around the world struggled to find a way to speed it up until 1992, when a team of scientists from the CSIRO stumbled upon the answer.
Led by Dr John O’Sullivan, the team was using intergalactic radio waves in their study of black holes. In the process they had developed a formula to tidy up the radio waves and found that it could be used for reducing multipath interference of radio signals transmitted for computer networking. So, by splitting radio channels apart O’Sullivan’s team were able to create a much faster network.
The CSIRO received an Australian patent for the technology in 1992 and a US patent in 1996. Companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Intel and Toshiba all fought to have the patent invalidated, but an out of court settlement in 2009 resulted in an enormous payday for theCSIRO .
The same year, O’Sullivan was awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science and a $300,000 cash prize. We suspect, however, the real reward lies in knowing that your efforts developed a technology that improves the lives of people around the world every single day.