History of the Internet of Things (IoT)

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The Internet of Things (IoT) has not been around that long. It was only in 1999 that the term ‘internet of things’ was coined by Kevin Ashton. Ashton used the phrase as the title of his presentation for a new sensor project he was working on and it stuck from there.

While the phrase came about in 1999, the concept of connected devices dates back to 1832. When the first electromagnetic telegraph was designed, allowing direct communication between two machines through the transfer of electrical signals. However, the true Internet of Things history began with the invention of the Internet in the late 1960s.

The world’s first IoT device

The world’s first IoT device was invented in the early 1980s at the Carnegie Melon University. A group of students from the university created a way to get their campus Coca-Cola vending machine to report on its contents through a network in order to save them the trek if the machine was out of Coke. They installed micro-switches into the machine to report on how many Coke cans were available and if they were cold.

The 1990s

In 1990, John Romkey connected a toaster  to the internet for the first time. A year later, a group of students at the University of Cambridge used a web camera to report on coffee. They came up with the idea to use the first web camera prototype to monitor the amount of coffee available in their computer labs coffee pot. They did this by programming the web camera to take photos three times a minute of the coffee pot. The photos were then sent to local computers so everyone could see if there was coffee available.

Paving the way for the future of IoT

The Internet of Things was a common topic used by the media at the beginning of the 21st Century with several major developments paving the way for the future of IoT. LG Electronics introduced the world’s first refrigerator connected to the internet in 2000. Allowing consumers to do their food shopping online and make video calls. This invention was followed by a small rabbit-shaped robot in 2005 that could report the latest news, weather forecasts and stock market changes.  While the first International Conference on Internet of Things was held in 2008 in Switzerland.

Today there are more than 27 billion devices connected to the Internet of Things, with experts expecting this number to rise to over 100 billion devices by 2030.

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