One of my favorite deployments of it was to make a router out of a laptop - and use two of the xircom realport "mating" cards to give the laptop two real rj45 ports without any dongles:
... combine that with an already existing rj45 on the laptop and you had a three-port gateway with a built-in KVM and a built-in UPS.
What's faster? The dual-core Cortex M0+ at 133MHz in his "wifi card"? Or the Intel 80486SX at 33MHz in his laptop?
Current wireless APs are backwards compatible to 802.11b and in some cases also 802.11a, usually covering every standard between that and whatever the new standard was when they hit the market. For example, this Netgear AP and router in its spec sheet says specifically "- Backwards compatible with 802.11a/b/ g/n/ac WiFi". It's just not on the main feature list that's shortened for marketing. https://www.downloads.netgear.com/files/GDC/RAX38/RAX38v2_DS...
So I get the idea of a faster network connection on PCMCIA, up to the point that the 486 can actually use it anyway. I understand the coolness factor and the fun of solving this puzzle. I just don't understand the stated need. It's a lot of work compared to just connecting. The bigger deal for me would be this old laptop and card speaking WEP rather than WPA3.
They even had CF/PCMICA wifi cards for PDA's and such. While this thread/topic isn't about that or such, I rushed to recall netsumbler and wardriving.
It's a Ricoh Chandra in disguise! https://aichi.to/~thinkpad/tp235/index.html
Still, great work comes out of chaos.