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The History of RFD

Many people think that RFID is a new technology but in fact the first use of RFID goes back to 1935. As radar was developed. There had to be a way to decide if a plane seen on the radar was the enemy or a friendly plane. So the radar was used to activate a transponder on the plane and identify a friendly plane. Although Identify friend or Foe (IFF) is still used today it is much more sophisticated than that early RFID system was.

Not much happened with RFID after this until the late 1960s when the US Government developed the technology further to tag and monitor nuclear and other hazardous waste. Other companies were looking at tagging animals but it was Los Alamos Scientific Laboratories, a government sponsored laboratory involved in the work on RFID, who transferred the work into the public sector in 1977 with two companies taking the initial charge – Amtech and Identronix Research.

Companies in Europe were looking hard at animal tagging along with business and industrial projects, but the big push was for toll road systems. The world’s first open highway electronic tolling system opened in Oklahoma in 1991. Vehicles could pass toll collection points at highway speeds, unimpeded by a toll plaza or barriers.

The work on animal tagging continued with companies like Destron, Texas Instruments, and AVID taking a very active stance. Soon the work of these companies was taken into ISO to produce the first standards for RFID –  ISO 11784/85.

For a more complete history see Shrouds of Time.