The Unsung Heroes Of Modern Tech

July 27, 2019

If we think about modern technology today, the names of Apple, Amazon, Facebook or Google usually spring to mind.

They are all big names in the industry and are some of the most valuable companies in the world.

Even these organisations’ founders, such as Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg are names we know just as much as the most prominent celebrities.

These companies and their leaders, however, would not be where they are today without the ingenuity of some relatively unknown people.

The Internet

Just consider for a moment where Amazon or Facebook would be if there were no fast and convenient internet? Would the iPhone and iPad exist at all if it weren’t for this kind of web?

These corporations have made their billions off the back of the internet. If it weren’t available in its present form, Apple would possibly still be producing standard personal computers. Amazon and Google would most probably not exist at all.

The Rise Of Broadband

In the beginning, there was dial-up internet. It was slow, expensive and tied you up from making telephone calls. It was impossible to do most of the things with it that we now take for granted. To make that happen, it needed it to get faster and more convenient. That is where Broadband came in.

So Who Created Broadband?

While many people were involved in bringing Broadband to market, the main credit can be put it down to two people – John Cioffi and Joseph Lechleider

John Cioffi

John Cioffi worked at the American Bell Laboratories in the 70s. It was during that time that he saw the potential of the ordinary telephone line to send and receive data without affecting voice calls.

While working a Stanford University in the 80s, his research led to the design of the Digital Subscriber Line or DSL. He further developed the first ADSL modem. He also designed the VDSL modem that allowed for even higher-speed Broadband. All these technologies are still used and enjoyed by most of us today in the form of our home or office modem/router.

No wonder he is known as the “father of DSL”.

Joesph Lechleider

We can’t, however, give all the credit to Cioffi. Joesph Lechleider helped enormously in getting Broadband as we know it today working correctly.

The issue was that Cioffi had problems with his DSL system. When first designed, the upload and download speeds of the data were the same and this caused issues and slowdowns that were unacceptable as a commercial product.

What Lechleider worked out was that if you decreased the upload speeds and left the rest for downloading, it would overcome that issue.

This solution also worked well in the real world as most people needed to download much more than they uploaded.

So DSL became ADSL – the A standing for Asymmetric – and commercial Broadband was born.

Onward And Upward

Unfortunately, Lechleider died in 2015, but Cioffi continues to work in the field. Only the other year, he was proposing the possibility of 1 Terabit per second speed (1000000Mbps) over a standard telephone line.

So as you read this on whatever device you are currently using, have a thought for the many people behind the scenes that allow us to enjoy the internet of today.

And think what possibilities the future may bring thanks to people like Lechleider and Cioffi.