A Brief History of Bluetooth

It might surprise you, but what if we told you that Bluetooth is almost thirty years old? This incredible technology has permeated so many aspects of our life. If you are using a laptop, cellphone, or tablet, then chances are that it is Bluetooth-enabled. This widespread technology is cheap and works by harnessing the power of short-range radio waves.

Let’s take a quick look at the beginning of Bluetooth and how it came to be so popular today.

In the Beginning

Bluetooth was first created in 1994 by scientists and engineers at a Swedish telecommunications company that you may be familiar with, Ericsson. These scientists were researching ways to have wireless headsets that could be used with computers or phones, exactly like it is used today.

They were looking for a more efficient and effective way to transfer data than standard infrared technology.

The project was labeled “Bluetooth” by one of the engineers. The name is derived from an ancient Danish king, but it stuck. Even the symbol for Bluetooth is borrowed from runes that depict his name.

From the Lab to the Market

While this technology was being created, the initial intention was to create an integrated laptop and cellphone. However, this was a difficult task at the time because of the amount of power that cellular devices required.

So, instead of creating an all-in-one device, they settled on a phone and a laptop that could wirelessly communicate with one another by using this new invention.

It wasn’t until 1999 that the first Bluetooth device was unveiled to the public. The product was a hands-free headset that ended up winning a “Best In Show” award at a computer expo and trade show. This came just in time for major changes in laws and regulations regarding using cellphones while driving.

In 2001 the first Bluetooth cellphones and laptops were released to the masses. The IBM Thinkpad A30 and the Ericsson T39, respectively, were the first products to hit the shelves with Bluetooth built-in.

Improved With Time

As with all technology, there is always room for improvement. When Ericsson and IBM first introduced Bluetooth, it was dubbed “Bluetooth 1.0.”

In the early days, this basic version of the short-range radio technology offered a limited range and a maximum speed of 1mbps. This was convenient and groundbreaking then but is 50% slower than current rates.

It wasn’t until 2004 that the first update was released. Bluetooth 2.0 improved the transfer speeds to 2 and 3mbps. After the third iteration in 2009, there was the possibility of transferring data up to 24mbps. 

Despite this incredible advancement, Bluetooth still wasn’t as widely used. One of the primary reasons is that it drained the battery of whichever device it was using quickly.

More Recent Improvements

Bluetooth 4.0 was an incredible technological step forward, making it more available. The battery power consumption was drastically improved, allowing smaller devices the ability to function and transmit data for longer. It only operated at 1mbps and relayed this in short bursts instead of a continuous stream.

Bluetooth 5.0 was introduced in 2017. This expansion further improved battery efficiency as well as range. The increased range is thanks to several different data transfer rates. It supports 2mbps, 1mbps, 500kbps, and 125kbps.

Because Bluetooth operates using radiowaves, it does occasionally suffer from outside interference. Thanks to this latest addition, it can block out more unwanted interference than in previous updates.

Currently, we are using Bluetooth 5.4 after hitting the market on March 8, 2023. This has further built on the advancements with regard to battery power, range, security, and connectivity.

Bluetooth 5.4 offers great improvements to the retail industry. This allows electronic shop labels (ESLs) to communicate and update prices faster and more efficiently than ever.

The Future Is Now

Bluetooth has been a revolutionary improvement using a century-old discovery. The invention of the basic radio has evolved drastically to allow us to do so many things that we previously never thought were possible.

As Bluetooth has improved, it has found its way into many different applications, from phones, headphones and speakers, mice and keyboards, smartwatches, and even the automotive and shipping industries.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.