The History of RFID

RFID technology has become an integral part of our life for it is being used in multiple purposes. Radio Frequency Identification is most used in collecting tolls, managing traffic, for secured entry and exit purposes in highly sensitive areas, shopping at malls, tracking library books and so on.

The beginning of time and the discovery of RFID can be considered as discovered simultaneously for it was the emergence of electromagnetic energy which lead to the deduction of four prime forces viz. gravity, electromagnetism, strong nuclear force and weak nuclear force. The electromagnetic energy can be considered as the first form of energy followed be protons, neutrons, and electrons. The collision of photos led to conversion of energy as mass.


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The collision of energy is the source of RFID which is then harnessed and put to use productively. Firt discovered by the Chinese who used them in the form of lodestones in one of the earliest century BC. It was not until the onset of the 18th century and the research of the famed scientist Benjamin Franklin that electricity was discovered. Michael Faraday, an English scientist worked further upon the concept of electromagnetic energy, followed by James Clerk Maxwell, a Scottish physicist. The other scientists who have contributed towards the development of energy and RFID are Heinrich Rudolf Hertz in Germany and Aleksandr Popov in Russia. In fact it was Hertz who first transmitted and received radio waves in the world. This discovery was followed by the first continuous wave (CW) radio generation and transmission of radio signals undertaken by Ernst F. W. Alexanderson in 1906.

A significant application of RFID concept can be considered as the use of the radar which is uses radio waves for detecting and locating objects through their reflection. In fact, radars were most used during the World War II for sole military purposes. “Communication by Means of Reflected Power” is a paper written by Harry Stockman in 1948 which set minds rolling to explore further into the field of radio frequency. But it took yet another five decades before RFID became actually in use in almost every aspect of routine life.

The commercial application of RFID can be considered with the development of Knogo as purely electronic article surveillance (EAS) equipment in order to counter theft. This electronic surveillance use ‘1-bit’ tags and provides anti-theft measure. With increasing experiments and research undertaken across the world, the radio frequency technology received greater impetus and the following can be noted achievements in the field viz. Raytheon’s “Raytag” in 1973, “Electronic identification system” in 1975 and “Electronic license plate for motor vehicles” in 1977 which was developed by RCA.

Increasing applications of RFID on a wider scale are marked by the development of transportation application of RFID and electronic toll collection by the General Electric, Westinghouse, Philips and Glenayre. Other applications put to use include factory automation, vehicle and animal tracking.

The countries which are noted for extensive RFID applications include United States, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, and Norway. These countries use RFID for collecting tolls on the highways. Also in countries of Australia, China, Japan, Singapore, South Africa and Europe you will find extensive use of tolling and rail applications. It was in the 1990s that the world got its first combined toll collection and traffic management system installed in the Houston areas in the Harris County Toll Road Authority.

With great hope and excitement the world awaits exciting developments in RFID technology for the the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allocated a wider spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band which will enable enhanced and intelligent transportation systems to be introduced in the world. These are surely going to make the world a better and much more convenient place to function.