In 1989, in an article for MacUser magazine, Douglas Adams predicted the future1.
     All I want to do is print from my portable. (Poor baby.) That isn’t all I want, in fact. I want to be able regularly to transfer my address book and diary stacks backward and forward between my portable and my IIx. And all my current half-finished chapters. And anything else I’m tinkering with, which is the reason why my half-finished chapters are half-finished. In other words, I want my portable to appear on the desktop of my IIx. I don’t want to have to do battle with cupboard monsters and then mess about with TOPS every time I want that to happen. I’ll tell you all I want to have to do in order to get my portable to appear on the Desktop of my IIx.
    I just want to carry it into the same room.
    Bang. There it is. It’s on the desktop.

    This is infra-red talk. Or maybe it’s microwave talk. I don’t really care any more than I want to care about PICTs and TIFFs and RTFs and SYLKs and all the other acronyms, which merely say, “We’ve got a complicated problem, so here’s a complicated answer to it.

The future is now.

With the introduction of Mac OS X 10.2 (“Jaguar”), Douglas Adams’ wish has been granted. A technology known as Rendezvous will allow two Apple computers (with Airport cards) to recognize each other and form an impromptu wireless network. Rendezvous also works with wired Ethernet, but that applies more for printing, and not for computer-to-computer networks.

A demonstration was given at the July Macworld New York Keynote speech: Phil Schiller walked across the stage with a closed PowerBook, while the overhead projector displayed the screen of the PowerMac that Steve Jobs with using. Schiller opens the PowerBook. Suddenly, iTunes (on the PowerMac) is updated with the playlists that the PowerBook contains. Schiller closes the PowerBook, and the playlist disappears. This all happens without anybody touching a button.

In the same way that Airport is an implementation of the 802.11b networking standard, (with a rather better name), Rendezvous is an implementation of the ZeroConf protocol (with a rather better name). The ZeroConf group, of which Apple is a member, is responsible for developing the ZeroConf protocol. The group was chartered in September of 1999, but did not hold their first official meeting in November of 2001.

Apple’s sign for Rendezvous is three gray swooshes, arranged into a bubble-T, with three orange dots, one per swoosh.

1The Salmon of Doubt, by Douglas Adams. Page 90.