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

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 exist. But now, 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. To better understand the Internet of Things and how it’s changed today, you would want to know more about the history of IoT and how it has revolutionized the way everybody lives.

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

The Internet of Things (IoT), in short, is the creation of network-connected devices to reach a new level of autonomy.

IoT - Internet of things

The History of the Internet of Things

Most other sites trying to explain the history of IoT (Internet of Things) tend to travel a bit too far by listing all the related technologies 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; all you need to do is take a trip down memory lane in the year 1999. 

1999: Kevin Ashton, MIT, Lipsticks

Who invented the Internet of Things? If there’s one person to blame for it all, it would have to be 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 came to life as the title of a presentation Ashton made for Procter and Gamble while working there as a brand manager.
  • Before showing his Internet of Things presentation to Procter and Gamble’s senior executives, Ashton found out that a 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 could be tracked more accurately so that anyone would know where they were and whether they were available at the moment.
  • 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.

2000: LG Electronics, Internet Fridge

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

LG Electronics then released a refrigerator known as the Internet Digital DIOS in 2000, which was connected to—you guessed it right—the Internet.

  • The Internet Digital DIOS refrigerator tracked the kinds of food items stored in it and 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

Understand the Internet of Things (IoT)

From a technology perspective, the Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the more interesting concepts you’ll run across regularly. We all know that the Internet is a web of connected information that works through a decentralized system of packet transfers. But the Internet of Things is the world that encompasses the physical aspects of the Internet. In other words, the IoT comprises material objects that transfer digital data.

Consider for a moment the ideas of timestamped solutions, artificial intelligence as it progresses, how big data factors into technology, and how all these things reference the cloud concerning archiving information. All of these puzzle pieces fit together in the current modern economic world.

Time-stamped Solutions

On a corporate level, knowing when things happen concerning data transfer is more vital than ever. That’s why you need to utilize enterprise information solutions realistically. If you manage or work for a company where lots of data are moving from one place to another, the Internet of Things allows you to know when all of these transfers happened – if you know how to timestamp data transfers in the first place and then search and reference those timestamps later. Though that may sound complicated, it’s entirely automated once you get the right system in place.

Artificial Intelligence of the Future

Then, we come to the progress of artificial intelligence. As far as physical objects go, there are going to be some very unique ways of converting artificial intelligence into usable output, and it’s all going to involve things. Some of these things might be virtual reality gear or even haptic devices that allow you to feel, in real-time, a virtual reality network. The bridge between artificial intelligence and virtual reality will come in the form of various robotic interfaces.

Reconciling Big Data

Big data comes into the equation. Computers and processors can now collect, store, reference, compare, and organize so much data that no human being could ever hope to do a similar task. However, once all that big data is in place, some physical device will be required to output usable information to human users. Again, a physical device will have to be used as a bridge.

Referencing the Cloud

And finally, it’s safe to say that most archival data these days is stored in the cloud. We all think of the cloud as this ethereal data-capturing entity, but all the data is on a server somewhere in a physical location. So even though we reference getting that information from the cloud, the cloud itself receives that information from servers on the ground, which relates to the IoT.

How has the Internet of Things Changed?

Despite not having entered the mainstream lexicon as of this writing, the Internet of Things has become a part of everyday life 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. Some examples illustrate how the Internet of Things has changed our lives today.

  • Some homeowners are beginning to make their houses smart by installing fixtures and appliances 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. The cup of coffee that might come out of it isn’t to your taste, but you’ll 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 according to your established routine and personal preferences.
  • The Internet of Things also notifies you if something that doesn’t match the data that the fixtures and appliances from your house have gathered from you comes up.

What If There Was No Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things reaps various benefits for more than just your house. It’s also widely used in the manufacturing, agriculture, law enforcement, hospitality, real estate, retail, and financial sectors, to name just a few.

  • If you’re one such homeowner with a smart house, you may have woken up to the sound of your alarm and a hot cup of coffee already freshly prepared 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 in gathering and transmitting data, the core of the Internet of Things, lets machines do the work for everyone.

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

How does the Internet of Things (IoT) help Startups?

The Internet of Things (IoT) has created a lot of buzz over the last two years. Every day, we hear of the possibility of connecting almost every device to the Internet. On other fronts, the claims have been materialized. More and more devices are getting connected to the Internet every day. We are currently talking about over 7 billion devices connected to the Internet, and the number is becoming bigger and bigger each day.


Investors are having a field day with the increased returns from this new, promising venture. Moreover, all the firms realize the importance of this new necessity. It’s great. It’s a promising, raw, but profitable technological footprint. In fact, according to CB Insights, Internet of Things (IoT) companies attracted more than $1 billion in venture capital in 2013.

Buzz says, “Over the next decade, the Internet of Things (IoT) is poised to change how we go about our daily lives with projections of over 50 billion connected devices by 2025, compared to the 7 billion devices today.

The statistic denotes a big business growth potential for struggling and vibrant startups. Fifty billion-plus connected devices is a big plus, making so much of marketing campaigns, automation, and other tasks easier.

It is tapping into a big and promising opportunity.

The Benefit of the Internet of Things (IoT) to Startups

There are various ways in which the Internet of Things (IoT) can help spur the growth of mushrooming businesses.

1. Fewer Expenses

The Internet of Things (IoT) helps cut expenses while increasing business mobility.

With the proper implementation of the Internet of Things (IoT) in firms, employees no longer need to be physically in the office. Startups can cut more costs by offering employees the possibility of clocking in via mobile devices. Such mobile connectivity helps startups reduce overhead costs drastically. Besides, businesses can implement automatic payments using payroll software solutions and other online services. The systems can release payments to distributors or pay employees automatically without physical intervention.

Other areas include the hotel industry, where establishments prefer online booking systems to traditional physical booking processes. Businesses have taken into account internet reservation sites. Alternative hospitality services, like Airbnb, a consumer favorite, have also come up, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT). Airbnb specializes in renting rooms, apartments, and even entire houses. It makes it easier for customers to access those facilities while reducing the overall costs incurred by the establishments.

2. Reinvent Marketing

It reinvents marketing to improve business transactions.

Innovation gives an edge to marketing campaigns. To stay on top, businesses need to develop top inventions that will help them spur their marketing campaigns. Besides, such inventions help make it easier for them to become a force to be reckoned with within their industry. By providing the right devices, startups can use fewer employees to perform many tasks. For example, we do not need cash registers like it used to be a norm before. With the advent of plastic money (credit cards & debit cards), most of the manual cash registered has been forced to oblivion. Now, more than ever, startups and other outlet stores can use that technology (credit/debit card swipe devices) to increase sales. In the same sense, mobile phones have done away with the analog landline telephone, ushering in a flexible digital communication platform. Such platforms make communication easier and more convenient.

3. Reinventing Industries

The Internet of Things (IoT) will benefit all types of businesses. The Internet of Things (IoT) helps by reinventing industries on three levels.

  • Business moment — It is the need to compete with unprecedented business velocity and agility. To achieve this feat, companies will need to make adjustments to fit into the changing business landscape of their industries. For instance, as mentioned above, hotel chains must reinvent their strategies to ace the new competition. Besides competing with other hotel chains, they will also have to compete with other e-reservation sites like Airbnb, which specializes in homes, apartments, and rooms for rent.
  • Business process — Startups can cash on digital technology to provide customized services and solutions to customers or improve products and services. Besides, digital technology can help in delivering a better customer experience.
  • Business model—More and more startups are merging every day. For example, Google’s driverless car merger with the automotive industry makes it easier for automotive companies to use those technologies to develop better, more effective, and sturdy Internet-controlled vehicles, which will help both parties remain in business.

4. Real-time Data

Data is all about decisions. The 50 billion-plus devices we are discussing will create billions of objects to generate more real-time data. Data is money. It is the backbone of every business. All businesses need data to be analyzed and used to make crucial business decisions. Those companies that use the data need data collection, storage, and processing devices. That is why computers and other devices are useful for startups and mushrooming ventures.

The leap in technology is a blessing and good news for startups. Now, more than ever, startups can compete with veteran industries on an equal playing field. An important invention has been the Internet of Things (IoT). With the Internet of Things, so many activities can be performed remotely. Companies can make a considerable profit and have fewer operations costs. The good thing is that the Internet of Things (IoT) is a new business dimension. And it is the backbone of future businesses. It is estimated that the revenue to be generated by the Internet of Things suppliers will reach $309 billion by 2020! It is a huge opportunity for investors and the users of this technology.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top