The History of IoT (Internet of Things) and How It’s Changed Today


The History of IoT: Machines sending information to and from some central network might sound like some science fiction plot device, especially back in the pre-Internet era, when such stuff didn’t even exist at all. But now that the Internet is fundamentally taking control of almost every aspect of your life, whether you fully acknowledge it or not, what was once a pipe dream has turned into reality all thanks to IoT or the Internet of Things. For you to better understand what exactly the Internet of Things is and how it’s changed today, you would want to know more about its history and how it has revolutionized the way you and everybody else is living right now.

IoT - Internet of things

How the Internet of Things Came to Be?

Most other sites trying to explain the history of IoT (Internet of Things) tend to travel a bit too far by listing all the technologies related to it that were invented before the Internet officially became available for the general public to use. You, on the other hand, wouldn’t have to go back too far as all you need to do is to take a trip down memory lane in the year 1999. 

1999: Kevin Ashton, MIT, Lipsticks

If there’s one person to blame for it all, it would have to be some guy named Kevin Ashton, co-founder and executive director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Auto-ID Center – which was then replaced by the more research-oriented Auto-ID Labs in 2003 – who coined the term “Internet of Things.”

  • The Internet of Things originally came to life as the title of a presentation Ashton made for Procter and Gamble when he was still working there as a brand manager.
  • Before showing his Internet of Things presentation to Procter and Gamble’s senior executives, Ashton found out that shade of lipstick from a line of cosmetics he was assigned to launch got sold out every time he passed by his local store.
  • The people in charge of Procter and Gamble’s supply chain then told Ashton that there was plenty of stock of the lipstick shade that supposedly got sold out at his local store.
  • Ashton started to wonder how products can be tracked more accurately so that anyone would know where they are and if they’re available at the moment or not.
  • At roughly the same time, RFID – or radio frequency identification – tags containing bits of data that could be transferred wirelessly were also being developed.
  • The presentation that Ashton made for Procter and Gamble sought to propose how RFID tags can be used to manage the said corporation’s supply chain so that the location and stock at hand of each item coming out of it can be more easily monitored.

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2000: LG Electronics, Internet Fridge

It was Ashton that helped the world, or at least those from Procter and Gamble, realize that developing technology at the time could actually provide a measure of “connection” with everything else, given the right vision.

LG Electronics then put out a refrigerator known as the Internet Digital DIOS back in the year 2000, which was connected to – you guessed it right – the Internet.

  • The Internet Digital DIOS refrigerator kept track of the kinds of food items that were stored in it as well as their respective quantities by scanning their RFID tags.
  • Unfortunately for LG, the Internet Digital DIOS refrigerator didn’t sell well because most people at the time thought it was too expensive for their needs.
  • Nevertheless, the Internet Digital DIOS would eventually pave the way for the potential of everyday household objects and handheld devices to become connected to the Internet.

Man holding a tab

How the Internet of Things Has Changed Today

Despite still not having entered the mainstream lexicon as of this writing, the Internet of Things has become a part of everyday life ever since it was first invented in 1999. After all, the Internet of Things can be defined in as few words as possible as taking just about every inanimate object in the world and letting them relay information to its users via the Internet. Here are some examples to illustrate how the Internet of Things has changed the way we live today.

  • Some homeowners are beginning to make their houses smart by installing fixtures and appliances that are connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi.
  • Without the Internet of Things to fix you a cup of coffee at the sound of your alarm, you would still have to do it yourself groggily, and the cup of coffee that might come out of it isn’t to your taste, but you’ll just have to make do with it.
  • Aside from providing you with a fresh cup of coffee, the Internet of Things also gathers all the data it can from you and lets each fixture and appliance in your smart house adjust themselves according to your established routine and personal preferences.
  • The Internet of Things notifies you as well if something that doesn’t match with the data that the fixtures and appliances from your house have gathered from you comes up.

What If There Was No Internet of Things?

It’s not just your house that reaps the various benefits brought about by the Internet of Things as it’s also widely used in the manufacturing, agriculture, law enforcement, hospitality, real estate, retail, and financial sectors, to name but just a few.

  • If you’re one such homeowner with a smart house, you may have woken up to the sound of your alarm with a hot cup of coffee already freshly prepared for you by your coffee maker as you get ready for the long day ahead.
  • Just about every single object you can think of as long as it has an on and off switch might already be part of the Internet of Things, and you might not even be aware of it.
  • The efficiency involved in the gathering and transmission of data that is very much the core of the Internet of Things lets machines do the work for everyone.

Once the stuff of imagination, the Internet of Things has now become an inevitable reality, especially as more and more people are learning how to remotely control household and other objects using their handheld mobile devices. However, there’s still so much to consider before a fuller, more efficient Internet of Things can be achieved. Hence, until then, the history of IoT is an ongoing one with newer technologies being developed every day that can change how it affects every single thing connected to it.


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