Novatel Wireless pioneered the concept of the MiFi, introducing it for the first time at CES in January, 2009.
Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant, a year earlier had introduced a similar product idea, but it was Novatel who pushed the idea of MiFi to the limits, and pretty much built the market for PocketSpots as I like to call them.
I went so far as to read the store poster in the window of the Three shop near Regent Street and saw that Three was claiming trademark for the term MiFi in the UK which Novatel Wireless has in the USA, but may not have in the UK.
FWIW, the current MiFi deal from Three is not a bad deal at all, if you are a resident or frequent visitor to the UK. Packaged up with Pay as you go data, without a dongle. That means your laptop, iPhone, Nokia E or N series device or even an Android with WiFi is ready to connect. In my case, an iPod touch and a MiFi is a great way to stay connected and make calls via client Truphone or Skype.
Here in the USA a MiFi and AT&T's new plan is also one to take a good look at if you need lightweight data access wherever you may be. While the pricing isn't as good as we see in the UK, the concept is worthwhile for the occasional user.