The New Fathers of Technology
Today, users of a multitude of mobile and desktop applications regularly take advantage of Voice over Internet Protocol technology. Many popular communication apps, from Cisco Systems’ WebEx to Skype, trace their lineage back to technology pioneered by Alon Cohen.
“The original idea behind VoIP was to transmit real-time speech signal over a data network and to reduce the cost” for long-distance calls, because VoIP calls would go over packet-based networks at a flat rate, instead of the more expensive public switched telephone network, as noted in the book Guide to Voice and Video over IP: For Fixed and Mobile Networks, by Lingfen Sun, Is-Haka Mkwawa, Emmanuel Jammeh and Emmanuel Ifeachor.
The authors note that Cohen and Lior Haramaty invented commercial VoIP in 1995. The pair, both from Israel, founded the company VocalTec Communications in 1989.
Cohen’s patent application for VoIP, filed in November 1994 (and granted in 1998), describes an “apparatus for providing real-time or near real-time communication of audio signals via a data network.” The patent describes a way to “provide an audio transceiver between a personal computer (PC) and a packet data network.”
VocalTec released the first “Internet Phone” in February 1995, note authors Sun, Mkwawa, Jammeh and Ifeachor. Since then, they add, VoIP “has grown exponentially, from a small-scale lab-based application to today’s global tool with applications in most areas of business and daily life.”
VoIP can be found in everything from Apple’s FaceTime service to Voice over LTE high-definition calling and is the modern way much of the world communicates via voice.