Internet of Things (IoT) History
A closer look at who coined the term and the background evolution into today's trending topic.
June 20, 2018
Considering how much we use the Internet of Things term we thought it would be helpful to look at the origin of the term and who were some of the important people and projects that helped move it from its first glimpses into today’s trending topic.
1832: An electromagnetic telegraph was created by Baron Schilling in Russia, and in 1833 Carl Friedrich Gauss and Wilhelm Weber invented their own code to communicate over a distance of 1200 m within Göttingen, Germany.
1844: Samuel Morse sends the first morse code public telegraph message "What hath God wrought?" from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore.
"When wireless* is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole.........and the instruments through which we shall be able to do this will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket."
*not the 802.11 version 🙂
"...It can also be maintained that it is best to provide the machine with the best sense organs that money can buy, and then teach it to understand and speak English. This process could follow the normal teaching of a child."
1990: Considered the first IoT device, John Romkey created a toaster that could be turned on and off over the Internet for the October '89 INTEROP conference. Dan Lynch, President of Interop promised Romkey that, if Romkey was able to "bring up his toaster on the Net," the appliance would be given star placement in the floor-wide exhibitors at the conference. The toaster was connected to a computer with TCP/IP networking. It then used an information base (SNMP MIB) to turn the power on. (See also: Xerox PARC networked coke machine)
1991: The first web page was created by Tim Berners-Lee
“The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it”.
1993: Created by Quentin Stafford-Fraser and Paul Jardetzky the Trojan Room Coffee Pot was located in the 'Trojan Room' within the Computer Laboratory of the University of Cambridge and was used to monitor the pot levels with an image being updated about 3x a minute and sent to the buildings server. It was later put online for viewing once browsers could display images. (via @snim2)
1995: The Internet goes commercial with Amazon and Echobay (Ebay)
1998: Google is incorporated
1998: inTouch a project at MIT was developed by Scott Brave, Andrew Dahley, and Professor Hiroshi Ishii (Via: @mrosenblatt)
"....We then present inTouch, which applies Synchronized Distributed Physical Objects to create a "tangible telephone" for long distance haptic communication." - Original paper (PDF), Video
1998: A year before losing his battle to cancer Mark Weiser continues his explorations into the topic and constructed a water fountain outside his office whose flow and height mimicked the volume and price trends of the stock market.
"Ubiquitous computing is roughly the opposite of virtual reality," Weiser wrote "Where virtual reality puts people inside a computer-generated world, ubiquitous computing forces the computer to live out here in the world with people."
"I could be wrong, but I'm fairly sure the phrase "Internet of Things" started life as the title of a presentation I made at Procter & Gamble (P&G) in 1999. Linking the new idea of RFID in P&G's supply chain to the then-red-hot topic of the Internet was more than just a good way to get executive attention. It summed up an important insight which is stil often misunderstood." - Full article
“in retrospect it looks like the rapid growth of the World Wide Web may have been just the trigger charge that is now setting off the real explosion, as things start to use the Net.”
1999 - Neil Gross in Business Week
"In the next century, planet earth will don an electronic skin. It will use the Internet as a scaffold to support and transmit its sensations. This skin is already being stitched together. It consists of millions of embedded electronic measuring devices: thermostats, pressure gauges, pollution detectors, cameras, microphones, glucose sensors, EKGs, electroencephalographs. These will probe and monitor cities and endangered species, the atmosphere, our ships, highways and fleets of trucks, our conversations, our bodies--even our dreams." - Full Article
2002: The Ambient Orb created by David Rose and others in a spin-off from the MIT Media Lab is released into the wild (and is still on the market) with NY Times Magazine naming it as one of the Ideas of the Year. The Orb monitors the Dow Jones, personal portfolios, weather and other data sources and changes its color based on the dynamic parameters.
- RFID is deployed on a massive scale by the US Department of Defense in their Savi program and Walmart in the commercial world.
"A new dimension has been added to the world of information and communication technologies (ICTs): from anytime, any place connectivity for anyone, we will now have connectivity for anything. Connections will multiply and create an entirely new dynamic network of networks – an Internet of Things"
2005: Ahead of its time, the Nabaztag (Now a part of Aldebaran Robotics) was originally manufactured by the company Violet and created by Rafi Haladjian and Olivier Mével. The little WiFi enbabled rabbit was able to alert and speak to you about stock market reports, news headlines, alarm clock, RSS-Feeds, etc as well as connect to each other (see: Nabaztag opera). The statement was "if you can even connect rabbits, then you can connect anything" (via @inakivazquez)
2006-2008: Recognition by the EU, and the First European IOT conference is held
2008: A group of companies launched the IPSO Alliance to promote the use of Internet Protocol (IP) in networks of "smart objects" and to enable the Internet of Things. The IPSO alliance now boasts over 50 member companies, including Bosch, Cisco, Ericsson, Intel, SAP, Sun, Google and Fujitsu.
2008: The FCC voted 5-0 to approve opening the use of the 'white space' spectrum.
2008-2009: The Internet of Things was "Born"
According to Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG), the Internet of Things was born in between 2008 and 2009 at simply the point in time when more “things or objects” were connected to the Internet than people.
Citing the growth of smartphones, tablet PCs, etc the number of devices connected to the Internet was brought to 12.5 billion in 2010 (Related: see Kevin Kelly's One Machine), while the world’s human population increased to 6.8 billion, making the number of connected devices per person more than 1 (1.84 to be exact) for the first time in history.
2008: U.S. National Intelligence Council listed the Internet of Things as one of the 6 "Disruptive Civil Technologies" with potential impacts on US interests out to 2025.
19xx-Present: A whole range of IoT platforms (Pachube, Thingspeak, etc), standards (6LoWPAN, Dash7, etc) hardware and software (Contiki, TinyOS, etc) have developed but the timeline details of each is outside the scope of the article.
2010: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao calls the IOT a key industry for China and has plans to make major investments in it.
2011: IPV6 public launch - The new protocol allows for 2128 (approximately 340 undecillion or 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456) addresses or as Steven Leibson put it, “we could assign an IPV6 address to every atom on the surface of the earth, and still have enough addresses left to do another 100+ earths.”
+ The term was added to the 2011 annual Gartner Hype Cycle that tracks technology life-cycles from "technology trigger" to "plateau of productivity" and has hit the Hype Cycle's "Peak of Inflated Expectations" in 2014
- Europe shows their continued interest and support in the subject with their ICT-FP7 Work Programme, IoT-A and digital future directives and the UK government grant (£5m) to develop the IoT in the UK
- The creation of the IoT-GSI Global Standards Initiative which promotes a unified approach for development of technical standards enabling the Internet of Things on a global scale.
While looking into the next stages of this term and technologies there are many oportunities and challenges to face including privacy concerns, security, costs, standards, regulations, and the list goes on.
Where do you think the IoT is evolving to next?