John O’Sullivan, the leader of the team that pioneered the high-speed wireless network, has finally been officially recognised and rewarded by winning the Australian Prime Minister’s 2009 Prize for Science. Apart from the prestige, the prize comes with a AUD$300K (~US$280K) grant.
The prize was announced last night, some 20 years after O’Sullivan started work on using “Fourier Transforms” to reduce signal echo in radio communications.
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The end results of his work were patents awarded to his employer, the Australian Government-funded research organization CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organisation), for the 802.11a,g and n protocols. That’s right, every time you access the Internet or a LAN via WiFi, you can thank O’Sullivan for making your life a squillion times easier.
Earlier this month it was reported that the CSIRO had entered into an approximately US$185 Million out of court settlement for patent infringement with 14 of the world’s largest tech companies. There’s still more to come as new organisations license the technology but other than today’s prize O’Sullivan won’t see a cent.
It’s because of this it’s great to see O’Sullivan recognised for his achievements.