The History of the ‘Internet of Things’ – So Far

The history of the Internet of Things seems as if it really hasn’t been written yet, and in a way that’s true. But the foundation of this technology that is probably going to revolutionize well – everything – in the coming decades actually goes back farther than you’d expect. Taking advantage of a new technology and understanding how it can make life easier can be less challenging if you understand where it came from. Here is a basic timeline of the Internet of Things.

The first actual item that laid the foundation for the smart technology that is coming is the barcode. It was created in 1949 when IBM Engineer Norman Joseph drew lines on the beach and had a light bulb click on in his head. Others took the idea and ran with it, with the use of grocery stores and other retailers quite clear. Just six years later, Edward Thorp invented the computer that was the size of a pack of cigarettes in order to predict roulette numbers. This, of course, was a sign of where future computing technology could go.
In the 60’s there were a few major advancements that paved the way for the Internet of Things today. One of them was the first wristwatch-mounted computer and other was a computer that you could wear on your eyeglasses to help the deaf with lip reading. Also, the very first message is sent over the internet – or at least the first try at an internet called ARPANET.
In the 70’s, the first RFID tags were patented, with read-write capabilities. 1974 was also the year that the first UPC code was used in a grocery store.

In the 1980’s the first test of the original Internet of Things was conducted. The Computer Science Dept. at Carnegie-Mellon University connected coke vending machines to computers so that they could tell how many bottles there were and if they were cold.
In 1990, an active badge system was created that used infrared to track a person’s location. There was also one of the first HUDs developed in 1993. There were several other major advancements in the 90’s that helped shape the future Internet of Things.
There were many accurate predictions at the turn of the century as to where computers were going, including some references to what would become termed the Internet of Things, and as you can see, the history goes back a long way. But the most interesting and exciting part of that story is still to come.


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