In our days Wi-Fi almost everywhere. Zone free Wi-Fi transport, and community centers, they cover the whole city and even clusters of several cities. Though soon the whole country (small area) will become area (WiFi zone). Apple has played in transforming Wi-Fi into what it was, not the last role. June 7, 2004, in the family of Wi-Fi devices from Apple there is a new base station, AirPort Express. Cheaper, affordable, almost invisible. The world became a little more wireless, but to this nobody paid attention.

Large seen from a distance, especially if it is a tiny, easy and no different from other, long-familiar, everyday items. AirPort Express (if you do not pay attention to the abnormal number of connectors on its housing) was one-to-one similar to the most common network interface cards portable computers.

Shape change was noticed immediately: instead of “flying saucers” with the flickering of the indicators, the journalists presented the parallelepiped with comfortable rounded edges – and discussions about the trends in new design splashed on the pages of the media, in blogs and on forums.

Forums about forms formulated opinion… Poetic. The prose seemed a bit boring, and did not cause emotions. There is something about AirTunes and a charger for the iPod Shuffle?

Another WiFi-router, which occupies the lowest place among their own kind in the price lists of Apple loosened and liberated from multiple forms of functionality – it is clear that nothing revolutionary or significant in it just can’t be!

But something was…

WiFi for intergalactic travelers

The AirPort Express was created primarily for users of PowerBook or iBook, who often have to travel. He was a great fit in a laptop bag and didn’t weigh anything.

Its size in centimeters – 9,1х7,4×2. 8, weight – 190 grams. A little more than standard network adapters that were supplied with laptop computers. To create your WiFi zone from now on it was a matter of a few seconds.

Express almost nothing inferior to AirPort Extreme Base Station, though its name, to give the product of quickness, or for whatever other reasons, the term Base Station was removed. Just AirPort Express. And simple, and it sounds beautiful. Similar to the “airport Express”.


In the Express there was no modem. I have this decision in doubt: if in the place of accommodation, no means of communication besides the usual phone network no, never heard of ADSL, modem was the weapon of last resort. But for the sake of such things in those days, it was possible to do without WiFi (computers, modems were required), especially in the wilderness of the connection, if he was a General, was bad.

But the Express cost only $ 129 (AirPort Extreme Base Station worth 299), a set of power cord and two cables for audio and analog needs still cost $ 39 (but without it it could do). Loss Express (in travel that just does not happen!) was 2.3 times less wasteful.

If desired (or necessary) AirPort Express without any problems can be used as a normal base station in the “permanent deployment”, at home or at work.

Compared to the AirPort Extreme Base Station at the Express generation zero (that is why it is called that way, when the next generation) were limited, but not too harsh.

The Express could only support 10 wireless clients (instead of 50 at Extreme Base Station), it had no Ethernet connector to connect devices do not support Wi-Fi and one Ethernet port was, even by the standards of those long-forgotten years, is rather weak. Only 10/100Base-T.

In the case of Express was only 3 (three!) connector: analog / optical audio Jack, USB port (for connecting a printer or… for charging iPod Shuffle) input and an Ethernet port, which is above, which is slow and weak.

Funny, but a historical fact: the Shuttle was compatible with printers that Apple officially does not support it, and which AirPort Extreme Base Station refused even to see. Jeff Carlson, MacWorld journalist, caught in a desperate situation, desperate, hooked up to the Express old laser printer Lexmark E312, and it all turned out.

However, it is rather the merit of Apple engineers under the management of AirPort 4.0 (this version is required by the Express is free AirPort 3.4.2) AirPort Extreme Base Station, too, learned the tricks.

But was at the Express one “main feature”…


You are not alerted by the mention of the audio output? If not, in vain. Because “mom soap frame”, and “Apple loves music”. And in the banal Wi-Fi base-stations, the company could not ignore iTunes.

With this program, AirTunes, one of the audio systems connected to the AirPort Express it was possible to broadcast the audio signal from iTunes client.

What it had to do with travel and generally Wi-Fi, I don’t know. This function, I didn’t even use (I’m enough and have enough computer and headphones), and how it looked in practice – not even imagine.

But it’s very modern.

Get a little technical

For all his fascinating and remarkable properties, AirPort Express was in fact a specialized computer on chipset Broadcom BCM4712KFB, the main role in which played a MIPS processor with a clock frequency of 200 MHz, so if you read somewhere stories about how Apple did not use MIPS, can be brave and send them to AirPort Express generation zero.

But in a tiny device was one more chip, “music”, from Texas Instruments, 16-bit Burr-Brown PCM2705.

And other Apple developments, to put it mildly, was not neglected.

But the most important, so that eliminates the user AirPort Express from dancing with a tambourine, it was the software.

It came with Xtreme, CD-ROM, in versions for Mac OS X and Windows. It was the AirPort Express Assistant (oprisavci configuration and commissioning of wireless zones to an absolute disgrace), AirPort Express Admin Utility and AirTunes.

The first generation appeared in 2008, in the era of the iPhone…

To be continued