IoT Has Always Been With Us

It’s had different names over the years.


By most accounts, Kevin Ashton of the Auto-ID Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology coined the term “the Internet of Things” in 1999, referring to a system of ubiquitous sensors connecting the Internet with the physical world.

We were well into the 21st century before the Internet of Things, as a marketing term or a short description of a certain technology, came to be widely adopted, for better or for worse.

The Auto-ID Center was started as an academic/industry initiative to spread the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology around the world through an open standard. It certainly succeeded with that goal. Making “the Internet of Things” a ubiquitous phrase surely wasn’t on the agenda at the MIT institution.

Truth be known, people have been saying “connected devices” and similar, generic phrases for many years. Only now, when you say “connected devices,” people almost immediately think, “IoT.” It’s kind of like cloud computing (an element of IoT technology), which has been around for many years under different names, and now it is transitioning to “fog computing” or “edge computing.”

Dennis Crespo, product marketing director for the Tensilica Processor Group at Cadence Design Systems, said in an interview, “We’re agnostic about this type of application segment. It’s a large percentage of our sales, but it has been for the past 15 years, even before the IoT name came into play. We were getting designs for controller-type processors that go into things like thermostats or HomePlugs or these communications DSPs that go into the same sort of platforms. We’ve been in this market for quite a long time. Recently, we have specialized our DSP and processor offerings for some hotter segments in the market, meaning that communications segment. This is a DSP than can do a variety of different stacks for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or Ethernet, as well.”

There you have it. Not quite as dramatic as Microsoft claiming that the Internet Explorer browser existed before the Internet, but the Internet of Things has been present in our lives for a long, long time.