The initiation of RFID technology can be traced back to world war II, in 1935, the Scottish scientist Watson Watt discovered the radar to warn while the plane is approaching at miles away. Then both the axis and allies adapt it, however, there is no way to identify whether the plane belongs to their own or enemy.
The Germans found that the radio signal reflected back from the plane was changed while the pilot rolls the plane, this would alert the radar crew that the plane belongs to them. this is the first passive RFID system.
To solve the identification problem, Watson watt developed the IFF system(active identify friend or foe system), a transmitter is mounted on each British plane, while the signal was received by the transmitter, it started to broadcast back a signal to tell that the plane is friendly. This is so-called the first active RFID system.
Since then, the RFID system have come a long way. Its main milestone is as follows:
2014 – RAIN RFID Alliance was founded by Google, Intel, Impinj, Smartrac, and AIM. RAIN RFID is a global alliance promoting the universal adoption of UHF RFID technology, RAIN uses the GS1 UHF Gen2 protocol which ISO/IEC has standardized as 18000-63.
1950s – RF technology is commercialized in anti-theft systems by using electronic article surveillance tags, it contains a 1-bit memory and can be turned on or off to show the goods is paid or not.
1973 - Mario W. Cardullo claims to have received the first US active rfid tag patent while Charles Walton, received the first passive tag patent, which is for door opening application.
1970s – Los Alamos National Laboratory developed a system to track nuclear materials. It is a passive rfid system, the transponder is put in the truck with truck ID or driver ID, been identified by the gate reader to control access.
1970s - Los Alamos National Laboratory also developed a passive RFID system for US Agricultural Department to track cows for health management. Later, other companies developed a low-frequency(125kHZ) system for cows management, a transponder encapsulated in the glass was injected under cow skin, also, low frequency transponders were made to cards for access control in buildings.
1980s – Scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory build a company to commercialize the technology to automated toll payment systems. which is still used all over the world.
1980s – over time, companies commercialized 125khz system and moved up to high frequency (13.56MHZ), companies in Europe use HF RFID system to track reusable containers and other assets, and now 13.56MHZ RFID system is widely used for access control, contactless smart cards, payment, and immobilizer system.
1990s – IBM invented and patented ultra-high-frequency(UHF) system, and did some pilots with Wal-mart. Later, IBM sold its patens to Intermec, even the UHF RFID system was installed in many applications but wasn't used widely due to cost and standard issue.
1999 – Uniform Code Council, EAN International, P&G, Gillette invested to establish the Auto-ID Center at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Professor David Brock and Sanjay Sarma changed the way of RFID application in the supply chain by turned RFID to networking technology.
1999-2003 – Auto-ID Center gained support from large companies and the U.S Department of Defense and developed two air interface protocols (Class 1 and Class 0), and the EPC definition. This technology finally resulted in the establishing of EPCglobal to commercialize EPC technology.
2004 – Nokia, Philip, and Sony established NFC(near field communication) forum enable the use of touch-based interactions in consumer electronics, mobile devices, PCs, smart objects, and payment purposes. NFC operates at 13.56MHZ and uses HF RFID protocols, but it will dominate the mobile-payments markets and consumer applications while HF RFID is used for access control, inventory management, and automation. NFC forum goal is to bring the convenience of NFC technology to life.