Bluetooth is on so many devices nowadays, but many people are not aware of how the Bluetooth that we know and love today came to be. Let’s go into a brief history of Bluetooth.
Bluetooth is named after King Harald Bluetooth. He united several Danish tribes (now present day Denmark, Sweden, and Norway) into a single kingdom. and may have also introduced Christianity as well. Jim Kardach was the man who proposed the idea of naming this system after King Bluetooth. A system was developed as a way for mobile phones to communicate with computers. It is implied that Bluetooth unites communication protocols into one universal standard, just like King Bluetooth united Danish tribes.
The technique that Bluetooth bases its communication protocol on is accredited to patent from 1942. The technique used by Bluetooth is called frequency hopping spread spectrum or FHSS. The patent was issued for a radio controlled torpedo and was called “Secret Communication System”. This was developed so enemies could not jam a signal during World War II. However, the US Navy did not end up using this technique, but it has become very useful for us today.
Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG)
In 1994, Ericsson, a communication and services company, had the idea of replacing RS-232 cables with a wireless system. In addition, other companies like Nokia, Intel, Toshiba, and IBM had similar ideas to make a wireless communication protocol for mobile phones and computers. These companies met in an Ericsson plant in Sweden to finalize the formation of the Bluetooth SIG in 1996. These companies realized that they needed to work together in order to make a universal standard.
This meeting is apparently where Kardach came up with the name for Bluetooth. This name was only to be used for a short period of time until a better name was thought of, but obviously, that never happened. As of today, Bluetooth devices have surpassed 2.5 billion and membership in the Bluetooth SIG has increased to over 19,000 from the initial 5 companies. This trend does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
Today, The Bluetooth SIG headquarters is in Kirkland, Washington. There are also offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul, Minato-Ku, Tokyo, Taiwan, and Malmo.
The Bluetooth SIG performs many functions such as updating Bluetooth specifications and protecting the trademark for Bluetooth. For a detailed timeline of the Bluetooth SIG, go here.
Different Versions of Bluetooth:
Bluetooth v1.0: This version had several problems and did not work very well with other devices. It also required a Bluetooth hardware device address while connecting to other devices causing many problems.
Bluetooth v1.1: In 2002, this was under the name IEEE Standard 802.15.1. This version fixed many of the errors in the past version. It also added a Signal Strength Indicator and non-encrypted channels were now available.
Bluetooth v1.2: This was a huge improvement from version 1.1. For example, the connection and discovery speed was significantly increased.
Bluetooth v2.0: Released in 2004, this version used Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) to help improve data transfer rate. EDR also uses less power solving some of the problems of the past versions.
Bluetooth v2.1: This version came out in 2007. This version main improvement was the use of secure simple pairing (SSC). With this, device pairing became more efficient and security was improved.
Bluetooth v3.0: In 2009, this version was released with improved transfer speeds of up to 24 Mbit/s. This was due to Alternative MAC/PHY (AMP).
Bluetooth v4.0: This version came out in 2010. This was the version where Bluetooth Light Energy or BLE came out. This has been used more and more due to its energy saving capabilities and speed of data transfer.
Bluetooth v4.1: One year after 4.0, v4.1 came out in 2013. This update was a major software update. This included support for LTE.
Bluetooth v4.2: One year later, 4.2 came out in 2014 and made it more useful for the IoT world.
In 2016, Bluetooth is planning on improving even more making it faster and giving it a longer range. Bluetooth has been a big part of our lives and hopefully this article helped you understand how it came to be in its current state.