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History of the Internet of Things

3 min. reading
Digitalisation, Internet of Things, New Gen / 30 August, 2021

Edgar Mondragón Tenorio Journalist

In 1874 French scientists installed the first sensor in history on Mont Blanc. The purpose was to obtain meteorological and snow depth data transmitted via a radio link, making this experiment the pioneer of telemetry.

In 1926 Nicolas Tesla was developing projects that revolved around wireless light and radio connections (shortwave) that have been precedent parts that together with the development of ARPANET (military precursor of the Internet) in 1969, have paved the way towards the purpose of making things work almost by themselves.

Computing, artificial intelligence and the Internet

Of course, the path towards automation and the quasi-autonomy of inanimate objects cannot be understood without the support and joint development of other emerging sciences. 

From the development of computational sciences with Alan Turing (1951) as their precursor. Also, the development of artificial intelligence by John McCarthy (1956) and Marvin Minsky (1969), and obviously, the development of the Internet as we know it today thanks to Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf (1973).

Without these advances it would simply not be feasible to even imagine the possibility of the interconnectivity necessary for objects, remotely, to one day require minimal human interaction to perform their functions.

The first connected objects and their challenges

In 1982, at Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania, the first thing connected to the Internet was put into operation. It was a soft drink machine that reported the amount of product it contained and the temperature it was at.

At that time, in addition to the still incipient Internet that was available, the other element that hindered the connectivity of objects was that everything had to be wired, a situation that reduced the data transmission capacity for the operation of things.

The development of the HTTP protocol that would give rise to the World Wide Web by Berners-Lee (1990) would give further impetus to the development of the Internet of Things. 

That same year, a toaster was shown with an Internet-powered toaster created by John Romkey, which could be activated from any computer with an Internet connection.

IoT: Expectations

In 1999, MIT professor Kevin Ashton gave a famous lecture where he started talking about the Internet of Things (IoT). 

However, it would not be until 2009 when he would make this concept widely known through the article entitled: That “Internet of Things “Thing. In it, he assures that IoT has the potential to change the world even more than the Internet did.

Today IoT has two major allies that are accelerating its development and standardization: 

  • Wireless networks. They have served as a catalyst to connect more and more objects to the internet, from cell phones, watches, virtual assistants, cars, and a long etcetera.
  • The promise of 5G. The other ally that threatens to deepen this interconnectivity to levels, almost, as only imagined in science fiction tapes. This is thanks to the great speed of data processing that promises the optimum for the intercommunication of objects with the physical environment.

There is still a long way to go in the development of IoT, but the fact that today there are more objects connected to the Internet, including cell phones, watches, computers, cars, and others, than inhabitants on earth, indicates that we are not far from a reality of massive interconnectivity and full of new challenges to explore.