The original AirPort Base Station was released along with the original iBook (blueberry and tangerine) at the 1999 MacWorld conference and expo in New York City. An optional AirPort card was available for the iBook (a repackaged Lucent ORiNOCO Gold Card PC Card adapter) and this graphite AirPort Base Station provided one of the first consumer WiFi base stations that was relatively easy to set up and manage.
The original AirPort system including the AirPort card and AirPort Base Station allowed transfer rates up to 11 Megabits/second.
Soon after MacWorld, Apple began airing a TV commercial for the AirPort Base Station featuring a 1950s-style Sci-Fi soundtrack and the base station flying in like a flying saucer.
The original AirPort card was a modified PCMCIA card manufactured by Lucent. Lucent’s model was called the WaveLAN/Orinoco Gold PC card. Apple’s AirPort card had no integrated antenna and included a small antenna port along the top edge.
The AirPort card was designed to be installed by a user. It slid into a slot that was easily accessed, and a small cable was plugged into its antenna port. The antenna cable was integrated into the design of the Mac laptop or desktop. In some installations an adapter was required.
The original AirPort card was released along with the original iBook (blueberry and tangerine) and the original AirPort Base Station (graphite). Apple was among the first companies to release a complete wireless system that was accessible to consumers, providing computers designed to easily install wireless cards, the wireless card, a wireless base station, and software that was relatively easy to configure and set up.
According to Apple’s guide, About Your Airport Card:
AirPort Card Specifications Wireless Data Rate: Up to 11 megabits per second (Mbps) Range: Up to 150 feet (45 meters) in typical indoor use (varies with building) m Frequency Band: 2.4 gigahertz (GHz) Radio Output Power: 15 dbm (nominal) Standards: Compliant with 802.11 Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) 1 and 2 Mbps standard and 802.11HR DSSS 11 Mbps draft standard