i3 - November/December 2016 - 43

Dr. Jaap Haartsen
Father of Bluetooth

As of 2016, there is an estimated installed base of 20 billion Bluetooth-enabled devices,
with three billion more forecast to be added each year.

W

hile the wild
success of
Bluetooth
has many
contributors, the ubiquitous
wireless technology was
actually born in the summer
of 1994 in Sweden from
a single parent - Dr. Jaap
Haartsen. As a result of his
paternity, Haartsen has been
dubbed "Mister Bluetooth"
or the "Father of Bluetooth."
Haartsen was born in the
Hague, the Netherlands,
on February 13, 1963, to
Abraham and Henrietta.
His father was an engineer
at Siemens, which sparked
an interest in electronic
and electrical devices in
young Jaap. He enjoyed
disassembling TV sets,
radios and other electronics
and, later, re-building this
dissected gear. He soon
started experimenting with
home bread electronic
circuits using discrete
components.
Haartsen earned his
master's (1986) and
Ph.D. (1990) in electrical
engineering, both with
honors, from Delft University
of Technology. During his
doctoral research, Haartsen
designed quartz correlators
for what would later become
Wi-Fi, collaborating with the
NCR team that also included
CT Hall of Famer Vic Hayes in
the Netherlands.
In 1991, Haartsen joined
C TA . t e c h / i 3

the newly formed EricssonGE joint venture in RaleighDurham, North Carolina's
Research Triangle Park (RTP)
to work on the first generation
of digital mobile phones.
In mid-1993, Haartsen
returned to Europe to work
for Ericsson's mobile phone
division in Lund, Sweden.
In the summer of 1994,
Haartsen was asked to
design a wireless link
between a mobile phone
and an accessory that would
support both voice and
data communications, and
provide an internet relay
from a mobile phone to a
portable PC.
The problem was
that existing wireless
technologies relied on a
powered fixed network with
base stations and access
points. What Haartsen sought
was a low-power direct
communications system

between battery-powered
devices. And this new
system needed to operate
in license-free spectrum
available worldwide.
Haartsen started building
several aspects of what
was initially dubbed MC
Link (Multi Communicator).
Haartsen's small Swedish
team gradually got bigger,
eventually involving Ericsson
colleagues in the U.S., who
dubbed the system "Penny
Link."
In 1997, Ericsson invited
other companies to join
the development effort,
with Haartsen leading the
sales pitch for "Bluetooth,"
which emerged as working
name for the technology.
The name derived from the
10th century King Harald
"Bluetooth" Gormsson,
so called for a discolored
tooth, who united Denmark
and Norway the way

the technology united
the mobile phone with
accessories. In lieu of a
better alternative, the odd
name stuck.
In February 1998, the
Bluetooth Special Interest
Group (SIG) was established
in the RTP, with five promoter
companies: Ericsson,
Nokia, Intel, Toshiba and
IBM. Haartsen drove the
standardization effort of the
Bluetooth radio interface
and played a key role to
obtain worldwide regulatory
approval.
Even though it took
until 2005 for Bluetooth
to become ubiquitous, it
was obvious how valuable
Haartsen's contributions
were. In 1997, Haartsen,
who has been granted more
than 200 patents, received
Ericsson's Inventor of the
Year award. In 2006, he was
inducted into the Bluetooth
SIG Hall of Fame and, in
2012, was nominated
by the European Patent
Office for the European
Inventor of the Year. In
2015, he was inducted into
the U.S. National Inventor
Hall of Fame.
In 2010, together with
two other colleagues,
Haartsen founded Bluetooth
headphone maker
Tonalite B.V. The company
was bought in 2012 by
Plantronics, where Jaap
continues to work.
n
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016

43


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of i3 - November/December 2016

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