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Summing up the history of humanity in 100 objects is a pretty big task. Huge. Perhaps not possible. And certainly open to great debate.

But it’s what the British Museum attempted to do, following on from a popular 2010 radio series. Their selection is now on display in Canberra at the National Museum, with one ‘home grown’ item included in the selection.

As the hosting museum, the National Museum of Australia got to choose an item to add to the collection as a ‘defining object’. Their choice of the wireless local area network (WLAN) equipment developed by scientists at the CSIRO in the 1990s – the precursor to wifi – was my favourite of all the items on display. The new wireless data transmission system (with a transmitter and a receiver)  was a world changer, liberating the world from dial up.

What a brilliant choice. Aussie Aussie Aussie indeed. Go Aussie scientists!


As the sign on the display said:

The CSIRO WLAN marked a change in communication technology that can be compared in significance to the invention of the telegraph in 1831. The introduction of affordable, effective, two-way wireless communication allows instant contact with, and access to, information resources – anytime and anywhere in the world.

Pretty amaze balls.

Hail to the CSIRO and the small team of scientists that discovered the key that led to the world of wireless communication and wi fi. I won’t attempt to explain how it works – the CSIRO has done that for us. Take a look:


The CSIRO was eventually compensated in the form of licence fees from key companies, after long and protracted legal battles pursuing their now expired patents, but the $430 million received in payments would seem an absolute pittance for its worth. I fear they were jipped.

The exhibition got me thinking. If I had to choose just one item to represent my life (not even a drop in the ocean on the history of humanity, I know) after I’d gone, what would I choose?

I decided it would be this blog. Perhaps because it allows me to incorporate quite a lot behind the scenes of one little screenshot. My family, my life, my travels, my writing, my pictures.

And all of that neatly encapsulated in, and accessible through, just one nifty little format – due to technology, including that ground-breaking stuff mentioned above.

What would you choose if you had one item to display to represent your life?

Still a couple of days left to see the exhibition if you haven’t already done so – finishes 29 January. Nothing like a deadline!

#NationalMuseumofAustralia #100objects #history #nma #visitCanberra #WLAN #CSIRO