Internet of Things Timeline

Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up (Yale Press, 2015),

Surveillance and censorship, creativity and altruism. The internet of things is the last best chance to build an open society. This timeline covers over 134 events and includes some credible predictions and likely milestones in the years ahead. It covers a range of social and engineering events related broadly to the development of device networks, and can be sorted by categories such as: drones and satellites, types of innovations, security, network trends, culture, politics and policy, and technical standards. Suggestions for new entries welcome, please send them to Phil Howard (pnhoward((at))

1961-01-01 00:00:00

The First Wearable Computer

American mathematician Edward O. Thorpe, together with mathematician Claude Shannon invented the world's first wearable computer. The cigarette pack-sized device was made to predict the motion of roulette wheels.

1961-11-21 00:00:00

The First Permanent "Internet" Link Established

American universities UCLA and Stanford Research Institute were connected with the first permanent link of ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet. About a month earlier, on 29 Oct 1969, the first message was sent from UCLA to Stanford via computers by UCLA student programmer Charley Kline.

1962-01-10 00:00:00

The Origins of Cloud Computing

American psychologist and computer scientist Dr. Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider wrote a series of memos exploring his idea of an “intergalactic computer network”. He imagined a system of computers connected to one another, and a space where all the data is available for everyone from anywhere. This idea paved the way to the creation of online banking interfaces, digital libraries, and cloud computing.

1976-01-01 00:00:00

The First Chip Card

French inventor Philip Moreno demonstrated that a plastic card with a computer chip embedded in it can be used for electronic payments. Moreno is generally credited with inventing the smart card, which he called la carte à puce (“the flea card”). The card took eight years to become popular in France, and even longer to become widespread elsewhere. The first trials of ATM bank cards with chips were successfully conducted in 1984.

1979-01-01 00:00:00

The First Form of Online Shopping

British inventor and entrepreneur Michael Aldrich demonstrated real-time transaction processing by connecting a domestic television set to a computer by a telephone line. He called his invention teleshopping. It was a centralized, two-way online system, which transmitted real-time information, similar to how airport schedules are displayed nowadays.

1980-01-01 00:00:00

Metcalfe's Law

Metcalfe's law was presented, stating that the value of a network is the square of the number of connected nodes (n2). In the 1980s, the law referred to telephones and fax networks, but with the spread of the internet, it carried over to users and networks. The logic is that a single node is worth nothing, but every additional device increases greatly the total value of the network by introducing multiple new connections. The law can be used to illustrate the possible growth with the development of IoT.

1981-01-01 00:00:00

The First Wearable General-Purpose Computer

American researcher Steve Mann designed and built a wearable multimedia computer with wireless capabilities. The laptop had not yet been invented, so a battery-operated computer was a novelty. The computer also had imaging capabilities. Mann carried the system in a backpack, and had a CRT display on the helmet. He carried a lamp to be able to take pictures in the dark.

1982-03-01 00:00:00

TCP/IP Set as Standard

The US Department of Defense declared TCP/IP as the standard for all military computer networking. TCP/IP is a set of communication protocols used on computer networks, providing end-to-end connectivity for computers.

1982-09-01 00:00:00

The Internet Coke Machine

Four graduate students at the Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science installed micro switches in the soda vending machine to be able to check from their desks whether the machine was stocked with drinks. This was the first Internet-connected appliance in the world.

1983-01-23 00:00:00

Radio Frequency Identification Technology

Inventor Charles Walton first patented the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) device. The device, consisting of a small chip and an antenna, is used to transfer data wirelessly between connected objects. The technology was first developed for espionage in 1945.

1990-09-01 00:00:00

The First Electronic System to Track Staff Movement

Olivetti invented an electronic badge system to track the movement of staff. The badge transmits infrared signals, which are picked up by sensors throughout the building.

1990-10-08 00:00:00

The Internet Toaster

Computer scientists John Romkey and Simon Hackett connected a toaster to the Internet, making it the first device controlled over the Internet. Using TCP/IP connection, the toaster could be turned on and off. The darkness of the toast depended on how long the toaster was on. A human being still had to insert the bread. A year later, a robotic arm was added to pick up and insert the slice of bread. The arm could also be controlled from the Internet.

1993-06-24 00:00:00

The First Live Concert on the Internet

Severe Tire Damage, a garage rock band from Palo Alto, California, performed the first concert live on the Internet. The band played on the patio of Xerox PARC in California, while viewers as far away as Australia reportedly watched the concert streaming online.

1993-11-01 00:00:00

The World's First Webcam

The first webcam, broadcasting the coffee level of a pot in the Trojan Room of the Computer Laboratory of the University of Cambridge went online. The camera was installed in 1991 to show people on a local network working in the building whether there was coffee in the lab's single pot or not. The broadcast was moved to the World Wide Web once browsers were capable of displaying images. The webcam worked until 22 August 2001, when the computer department moved.

1993-12-31 00:00:00

The First Botnet

American coder Robey Pointer created Eggdrop, one of the world's first botnets, to manage the IRC channel #gayteen. A botnet is a software network working on devices connected to the Internet to perform different functions. Botnets are often malicious and illegal. However, legal bots such as Eggdrop were designed to control and protect IRC from malwares. Eggdrop is the oldest IRC bot still being maintained.

1994-01-01 00:00:00

The First Online Social Movement

In January 1994 the leftist group known as “Zapatistas” declared war on the Mexican state. The group performed several violent actions in the south of Mexico. The Zapatistas were the first group to use mobile phones and the Internet to seek international support for their cause. They also used technology to disseminate their ideas among the Mexican population.

1994-08-16 00:00:00

The World'sFirst Smartphone

The world's first smartphone, the IBM Simon was introduced. IBM Simon was a touchscreen cellular phone with email and fax capabilities. It also had a cable to plug it into a regular phone jack to be used as a land-line phone. IBM Simon was sold in the US for $1,100 without a contract.

1994-11-07 00:00:00

The First Internet Radio

The radio station WXYC (Chapel Hill, NC, US) started to offer live internet broadcast, becoming the first traditional radio station that went online. The world's first Internet-only radio was, launched in 1995.

1995-11-01 00:00:00

The first Internet Telephone Software

Israeli telecom equipment provider VocalTec released the first commercial VoIP (Voice over IP) software called the Internet Phone.

1998-01-01 00:00:00

The First Musical Instrument Played Through the Internet

Researcher and artist Atau Tanaka and composer Kasper Toeplitz connected the Global String, a musical instrument to the Internet. The instrument consists of a physical string, 15 meters in length, connected to a virtual string online.Vibration sensors translate the analog pulses to digital data. Users strike the string, making it vibrate.

1998-08-24 00:00:00

Project Cyborg: the First Chip Impanted into a Human

Researcher Kevin Warwick had an operation to have an RFID chip implanted into his forearm. The chip emitted a signal allowing a computer to monitor Warwick's movements. He was able to operate doors, lights, heaters and other computers without touching them. In the second phase of the project, in 2002, an electrode array was implanted into Warwick's arm, directly interfaced to his nervous system. With the implant, Warwick was able to operate an electrical wheelchair and an robotic arm. Later, by means of the implant, Warwick's nervous system was connected onto the internet in Columbia University, New York. From there he was able to control the robot arm in the University of Reading. Finally, Warwick's wife also had an array implanted, which allowed for the direct and purely electronic communication between the nervous system of two human beings.

1998-09-18 00:00:00

The First Political Petition Online

Computer entrepreneurs Joan Blades and Wes Boyd created MoveOn, an online petition "to censure [the sexual scandal of] president Clinton and “move on” to pressing issues" in the US. The initiative became a powerful public policy advocacy group. The petition created by Blades and Boyd was the first of its type.

1999-01-01 00:00:00

The Term Internet of Things Coined

British technology pioneer Kevin Ashton proposed the term "Internet of Things" as the title of a presentation at Procter & Gamble (P&G). Ashton explained that “today computers — and, therefore, the Internet — are almost wholly dependent on human beings for information. Nearly all of the roughly 50 petabytes of data available on the Internet were first captured and created by human beings — by typing, pressing a record button, taking a digital picture or scanning a bar code [...]. We need to empower computers with their own means of gathering information so they can see, hear and smell the world for themselves, in all its random glory”.

1999-01-01 00:00:00

The First M2M Protocol

IT research engineers Andy Stanford-Clark and Arlen Nipper created MQTT, the first protocol for machine-to-machine communication. MQTT is a lightweight publish/subscribe messaging transport for connections with a limited network broadband or for constrained devices.

1999-11-29 00:00:00

The First Major Mobilization over the Internet

The protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle, also known as "the battle of Seattle" was the first major mobilization effort coordinated over the Internet. Some 50,000 protesters are estimated to have participated. During the protests, the Independent Media Center (IndyMedia) was established to report the events.

2000-05-03 00:00:00

The First Geocache Placement

Dave Ulmer placed the first GPS-located cache in Oregon, and posted its location on the Usenet newsgroup. The geocaching trend kicked off after the Clinton administration began providing public access to highly accurate GPS data. It is a real-world outdoor treasure hunt game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache container hidden at any location all over the world. Seekers can search for and download coordinates of caches from various websites and manage them through dedicated applications for smartphones with a built-in GPS receiver.

2000-06-01 00:00:00

The First Internet Fridge

LG Electronics introduced the world's first internet-connected fridge. It was based on “internet digital DIOS”, a technology that had been developed at LG since 1997. Besides keeping the food cold, this fridge allowed its users to surf the web, record video messages or keep inventory of what food was in the fridge. Although it was quite a failure in itself (not too many customers were willing to pay 9 000 USD for a fridge), the applied technological development was regarded as having an impact on the emerging field of internet-connected household appliances.

2001-01-17 00:00:00

The First "E-Revolution"

A political protest to oust the president of the Philippines called protesters to central Manila via text messages.

2001-08-01 00:00:00

ISP Acknowledges that Botnets Pose Problem

In 2001 Earthlink, the third largest internet provider in the United States, made public the existence of netbots being used with malicious purposes. Earthlink filed a lawsuit against Khan C. Smith in 2001. Khan used a bot to obtain personal information of Earthlink users. With information such as credit card numbers Smith created over 1,000 accounts and sent unsolicited e-mails using dummy websites. During the lawsuit, Earthlink argued that botnets operators could easily infect computer users with malicious bots. Bots have been used since then for spam purposes, adware, spyware, click fraud or scareware.

2002-01-01 00:00:00

The First "Glanceable" Device

Ambient Devices released Ambient Orb, a lamp which displays information trends acquired wirelessly using different colors of the spectrum. It can be set to show weather forecasts, trends in the market or traffic information. For example the lamp is green if there is an increase in the market trend, it turns red if it is a decrease and becomes yellow when the market is calm.

2002-03-25 00:00:00

Near Field Communication Technology Introduced

Sony and Philips announced their cooperation to develop Near Field Communication Technology (NFTC), a wireless technology that allows devices equipped with a chip or antenna to share data with another nearby compatible device. The technology has been used to “tap” phones, credit cards and other network devices to simplify transactions and improve security.

2005-11-17 00:00:00

The First UN Report on the IoT

The UN specialised agency for ICTs, the International Telecommunications Union published its first report on the Internet of Things. “We are standing on the brink of a new ubiquitous computing and communication era, one that will radically transform our corporate, community, and personal spheres”, the report stated. It included chapters on enabling technologies, shaping of the market, emerging challenges and implications for the developing world. Some of the applications of the IoT were at that point in medical diagnosis and treatment, obtaining cleaner water and improved sanitation, energy production, and export of commodities and food security.

2006-01-01 00:00:00

Bluetooth Smart Technology Introduced

Nokia introduced Bluetooth Smart technology under the name Wibree. Bluetooth smart technology is a very low power consumption version of Bluetooth Wireless technology. Using this technology small devices powered by small coin-cell batteries can operate for more than a year without recharging. According to Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) more than 90 percent of Bluetooth enabled smartphones will support this technology by 2018.

2006-03-27 00:00:00

The First Protest Organized Through a Social Networking Site

Students in California used the social networking site MySpace and email to organize protests against the Congress-proposed changes to the immigration legislation. The changes imposed higher penalties for Illegal immigration. The protests initiated on 19 March in Chicago, and spread to California. The proposed changes to the legislation passed but the protest created an important base on the immigration debate.

2007-01-01 00:00:00

China Takes over Global Mobile Phone Production

China reached more than 50% of the global share of mobile phone production with 600,000 phone produced. By 2013, China's market share rose to 60%.

2007-01-01 00:00:00

European IoT Research Research Organization founded

The European Commission's Directorate General for Information Society and Media started the Networked Enterprise and RFID forum, later to become the European Research Cluster on the Internet of Things (IERC). This European Union-based organization aims at facilitating the future of the IoT by looking at best practices and new technologies. It tries to estimate the economic impact of the IoT in relation to technology development and the industrial growth.

2007-01-01 00:00:00

Intelligent River Project

The Institute of Computational Ecology at Clemont University in South Caroline launched the Intelligent River project, a network of computerized sensors for monitoring water quality along the entire length of the 502 kilometer Savannah River. The project uses stacks of computer processors and radio equipment housed in buoys. The data from the sensors are transferred to wifi or mobile phone networks. The long term goal of the project is to develop a flexible monitoring system for a variety of environments, allowing the measurement of anything from soil composition to traffic patterns.

2007-01-01 00:00:00

The First Networked Plants

Botanicalls, a system enabling a new channel of communication between humans and plants was developed. Moisture sensors put in the plant's soil transferred data to a telephony application to call a designated number if the plant was dry. In later versions, the plant could call any number. More currently, the sensor is connected to the Internet via an ethernet cable, allowing the plant to tweet when it needs water.

2007-04-01 00:00:00

China Surpassed US in Number of Internet Users

China surpassed the US in the number of Internet users. While in 2005, there were twice as many Internet users in the US as in China, China took over by 2007. By 2010 there were twice as many internet users in China as in the US.

2008-01-01 00:00:00

The First Massive Open Online Course

The first massive open online course (MOOC) was launched by Stephen Downes and George Siemens at the University of Manitoba. The course was entitled 'Connectivism and Connective Knowledge', and counted as many as 25 students. It paved the way to the creation of other sites offering a wide variety of online courses ranging from neuroscience through cryptography to the history of the Beatles offered by universities from all around the world. The majority of these courses are offered in exchange of tuition fee and build on each other, thus making it possible for the learners to specialize within a certain discipline.

2008-03-01 00:00:00

The First Smartpen

Livescribe introduced one of the first smartpens, a digital pen with an integrated computer and an audio recorder. When used on digital paper, the pen can transfer handwritten notes directly to the cloud via a software application. The user can also record audio and synchronize it with the handwritten text.

2008-03-26 00:00:00

The First European Conferece on IoT

Organized in Zurich, it was the first event in Europe that brought leading researchers and practitioners from both academia and industry together to facilitate sharing of applications, research results, and knowledge. Since then, a yearly summit on the IoT is organized at the EU level that tackles both the critical policy dimensions and commercial opportunities of IoT in Europe.

2008-04-01 00:00:00

The World's Largest Botnet to Date

Illegal botnet Kraken compromised 409,912 unique IP addresses within a 24-hour period, infecting machines of fifty Fortune 500 companies overall. What distinguished Kraken from other malwares were the facts that it was twice the size of any zombie network known by 2008 and that only 20% of PCs running anti-virus products had detected the malware. Its main activity was sending spams that advertised high-interest loans, male-enhancement techniques, fake designer watches and gambling opportunities.

2008-11-12 00:00:00

The First Wearable Device to "Tweet from the Womb"

A fetal activity monitor worn by the pregnant woman became available for sale. Kickbee is a wide colorful belt with built-in sensors that wirelessly transfer movement data from the woman's body to a Java application. When the application detects a fetal movement, it posts an automatic message on Twitter: "I kicked Mommy" with the date and time info. Kickbee can be configured to send SMS to any phone number as well.

2009-01-01 00:00:00

The First Browser-based Cloud Applications

Google Apps, the first large-scale browser-based enterprise application was launched. A milestone in the history of cloud computing, browser-based cloud applications enabled users to work on their documents directly within an internet browser without installing additional software. As a result, all documents have become accessible from any device connected to the internet.

2009-01-01 00:00:00

The Search Enginge of the Internet of Things

Computer programmer John Matherly launched SHODAN, a search engine for devices that are connected to the internet such as security cameras and control systems, heating systems, traffic lights, medical devices and even nuclear power plants, many of them publicly accessible. SHODAN is mainly used by researchers, cybersecurity experts and law enforcement to expose and amend critical vulnerabilities caused by inadequate security measures.

2009-03-03 00:00:00

Platform to Monitor Climate Change with Satellites and Sensors

NASA and Cisco Inc. announced a partnership to develop an online collaborative global monitoring platform called the "Planetary Skin" to capture, collect, analyze and report near real-time data on environmental conditions around the world. The partnership later became a independent, non-profit research and development organization.

2009-04-01 00:00:00

Real-time Air Quality Data Displayed in Art Installation

Soon-in Yang and David Benjamin, with the help of the Korean Ministry of Environment set up an art installation in Seoul, South Korea, to display real-time air quality data. The project was called Living Light and it was set up in a park. The lighting panels of the object, representing Seoul's districts, were connected through the internet to a pollution sensor in the respective area. If the air quality in the given area was better than the same time a year earlier, the panel illuminated. Citizens could also send numerical data about the level of pollution through text messages to the panels.

2009-06-12 00:00:00

Iran's "Twitter Revolution"

On 12 June 2009 a series of protests were held in Iran to oppose the presidential election results. Using Facebook, Twitter and blogs, students and political leaders called to occupy the streets. The government blocked proxy portals to prevent the information from spreading. Hackers helped to keep the proxys open and the information about the protests and repression available.

2009-08-01 00:00:00

The First Wireless, Networked Pacemaker

Carol Kasyjanski of New York became the first patient to receive a wireless pacemaker. Though the pacemaker does not have an IP address of its own, it allows for monitoring and checkups without an actual examination by the doctor. Special frequency of 402-405MHz has been allocated to medical monitoring devices. The pacemakers are anticipated to be just a gateway for other devices which could check patients’ glucose levels and similar health functions.

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