Digital Ocean, Inc., was a maker of wireless products from 1992 to 1998, when it was bought by Harris Semiconductor and its assets made part of Harris’s Intersil Division, which was spun off in 1999 into Intersil Corporation. The company was founded in May 1992 by Jeffery Alholm and headquartered in Lenexa, Kansas. Several contracts with Apple Inc., <ref name=”PR Newswire via The Free Library. 3 Nov 1995. Digital Ocean Licenses Apple’s Newton Technology; Increases Durability and Adds Communications Features to Target Vertical Markets, by Unknown Author”> AT&T, Aironet Wireless Communications (later acquired by Cisco as its wireless LAN division), Harris Semiconductor, the United States Department of Defense, and several others made Digital Ocean the leader in developing and manufacturing state-of-the-art wireless products for the entire line of Apple’s desktop, portable, and pen-based devices. It was a co-developer of the IEEE 802.11 wireless standard and of the industry’s first 802.11 chipset. It developed the Seahorse, arguably the world’s first smartphone. In addition, by specializing in rapid, custom development, the company concluded multiple individual development contracts for application specific wireless products in vertical markets. Digital Ocean was granted approximately 20 patents for its development of wireless technologies. In 1998 it was sold with its assets to Harris Semiconductor to become part of their Intersil division; Intersil was then spun off from Harris one year later.
Starfish Wireless Access Point for LocalTalk and EtherTalk Macintosh Starfish with Microcellular Roaming Software Enabled seamless roaming. Starfish II Ethernet Access Point Business Wire Magazine explained, “The Starfish II connects to wired networks and acts as the access provider for Manta and Digital Ocean’s other station products.” Manta 500EN EtherTalk Wireless Station with AAUI Connection Manta 10BaseT Wireless network connections at full ethernet speeds. Grouper Line The Grouper line of products were networking devices that used spread-spectrum radio waves to communicate. Groupers could be attached to any PowerBook or used freestanding with any desktop Mac. Placing one Grouper on a wired network would have it serve as a hub for up to 15 other wireless Groupers. Keeping with Digital Ocean’s theme, the collection of networked computers was called a school. Wireless devices could access the Grouper-enabled network from within a 250-foot distance indoors to an 800-foot distance outdoors, and the Grouper only used one-sixtieth the power of other comparable wireless devices. * 100MPS+ Wireless local area connectivity for all Newton MessagePads; included additional port for serial devices, such as wand barcode readers, laser barcode scanners, and printers. * 105MPS Package included Grouper 100MPS+ with Digital Ocean Pen Reader, bundled with AllPen barcode software for wireless data collection. * 100LTS LocalTalk for Macintosh The original Wireless LocalTalk station for Macintosh that mounted directly to the bottom of 100xx PowerBooks. Tarpon All-In-One PDA The Tarpon integrated an Apple Newton and Digital Ocean Grouper with backlighting, a water-resistant and ruggedized case, and built-in wireless LAN, WAN, modem, voice capability for anything from simple peer-to-peer conversations to full telephony, and optional GPS via the PCMCIA slot. The addition of wireless capabilities to Newton-based devices was called “a major step forward” because “without it, they are not really useful.” The Tarpon began as the SuperTech 2000, but was then further modified and released to the general public under the new name. Seahorse A rugged handheld computer based on the Newton OS 2.0, the Seahorse was backlit, lightweight, and durable, with a variety of integrated communication capabilities: the first CDPD modem ever in a wireless PDA, PCMCIA slot, WLAN modem, and a modular snap-on nose for optional GPS and diffused infrared capabilities. A rugged boot protected Seahorse, while large-capacity, slide-in rechargeable batteries provided around eight hours of continuous use. Together these features made Seahorse a good solution for: remote handheld access to customer service databases, wireless Internet access, precision location applications utilizing handheld GPS systems, and wirelessly accessing corporate and Internet databases to utilize schematics and manuals while in the field. Digital Ocean began sales of the Seahorse in 1996. Though not its original intention, the Seahorse arguably contained all the intellectual property and engineering in one integrated device to constitute the world’s first smartphone, as defined by four parameters: Skyway Bridge Business Wire Magazine said, “Skyway Bridge wirelessly connected Ethernet-compliant networks in multiple buildings at distances up to 20 miles apart and can be used in conjunction with Digital Ocean’s in-building wireless LAN products, including Starfish II, Manta II and Grouper. With a bandwidth of 2 Mbps, Skyway Bridge is faster and less expensive than T1 lines.”
All Digital Ocean Wireless LAN products use the company’s patented protocols and software technologies, as well as a spread spectrum spread spectrum radio, giving Digital Ocean products excellent penetration through walls, exceptional reach, reliable data transfer and exceptional throughput. especially with respect to infrared LAN communication. Digital Ocean products did not require any additional network operating hardware or software, and AppleTalk protocol services were fully supported. Digital Ocean has developed and sold a complete family of LocalTalk and Ethernet wireless network adapters for Macintosh, PowerBooks and Newtons desktops. In addition, the company’s microcellular roaming allowed for virtually unlimited wireless coverage. Their Starfish APs deployed microcellular roaming over a building or campus, allowing seamless wireless LAN connections throughout the area, similar to cell phones. In 1996, Digital Ocean partnered with two other companies to provide Apple and PC platforms with their first ability to be on the same wireless LAN through a single access point. The solution viewed each computer as an agnostic system when accessing the network, which placed all computers on an equal footing in terms of their ability to communicate across a business. <Ref name = “First Wireless LAN Solution for Mixed PC and Macintosh Environments Digital Ocean, Digital Equipment Corporation and Lucent Technologies, Business Wire, The Free Library, May 21, 1996”>
In 1995 and 1996, Digital Ocean entered into three-way development agreements with AT & T / Lucent and Aironet for the acquisition of Digital Ocean’s Media Access Control (MAC) chipset technology in exchange for line access. AT & T / Lucent semiconductor. (DSSS and FHSS), as well as broad support for the development of all parties. This work led to a common MAC chip for all three parties. Although the brand was different for each partner, this common chip came from a production line and was then sorted and sold by AT & T / Lucent, Harris Semiconductor / Intersil (which had acquired Digital Ocean in 1998) and Aironet / Cisco .
Before being ratified as a standard, Digital Ocean was the leader in 802.11 capabilities, emphasizing wireless as the future of communication and technology in general. Digital Ocean’s portfolio of around twenty patents has weighed heavily in the wireless category. The IEEE had already decided that any ratified standard should be free of charge, therefore, as a strategy to maintain their participation in the wireless business trajectory, Digital Ocean formed a consortium with its partners to publish an open standard interoperability between different suppliers and their products. They have also licensed several of their patents to the new 802.11 standard. Some Digital Ocean patents included: