A Short History of RFID Technology

Radio-frequency identification, or RFID, is an electromagnetic system used to identify and track tags in objects. Each tag uses a tiny radio transponder, receiver, and transmitter. Passive tags transmit data to active tags that read the radio waves and activate the device. RFID capability is found in many modern industries, such as farming and technology, but it originated during World War II. Read this short history of RFID technology to learn how radar systems helped create the first RFID systems and how those systems changed into the modern tagged devices used today.

Radar and Early RFID Communications (1940s to 1960s)

Radio-frequency identification got its initial start in the 1940s during World War II. The radar systems at this time indicated enemy aircraft or marine craft but didn’t specify who it belonged to, which often resulted in friendly fire. Thus, both sides experimented with primitive friend or foe transponders even after the war. This type of system acted as an early RFID transmitter. It sent signals to aircraft transmitters which then returned signals to grounded radar stations that broadcasted the aircraft as friendly or an enemy. In 1948, researchers determined that any further work on RFID technology required considerable research and development.

First RFID Patents (1970s to 1980s)

The 1970s saw the first RFID patents for active RFID tags. One such patent was for a passive transponder to unlock a door without a key. A receiver with an embedded transponder communicated the signal to a reader near the door which would unlock when it read the RFID tag. Another early patent was a toll device. Consisting of a 16-bit memory transponder relying on radiofrequency, sound, and light transmission carriers, it was a precursor to modern electronic toll devices. Other field researchers’ plans for RFID technology included automotive identification, banking, security, automatic gates, and medical identification. Within this time period, patent holder Charles Walton also received the first patent to use the abbreviation RFID in 1983.

Modern RFID Tags and Technology (1990s to Present)

By the 1990s and 2000s, RFID technology incorporated higher frequencies for greater range and faster data transfers. Typical, RFID systems today, like those in contactless payment or electronic toll devices, use around 13.56 MHz. Active frequencies read the passive RFID tag to start the device. Some RFID devices use ultra-high frequency which offers long read range and extremely fast data transfer. These devices are commonly used in warehousing, farming, pharmaceuticals, and industrial settings.

After reading this short history of RFID technology, it’s important to note that in certain cases, RFID can be used for bad intentions. Criminals with RFID readers can access cashless payment options with built-in RFID technology, such as bank cards. Therefore, it’s important to use an RFID aluminum wallet. Our custom-made minimalist wallets have RFID-blocking capability, so you don’t need to worry about hackers or stolen finances. Check out our Build Your Fantom R Wallet feature to create your perfect RFID-blocking wallet with different sizes, finishes, and an optional money clip.