Charles Walton, 89 (November)
Known as the
Father of RFID
, Walton created technology in the 1970s and 1980s that is now common everywhere from warehouses to retail stores to public libraries. RFID technology beat out barcodes for many applications and is paving the way for technologies such as near-field communications (NFC) being used for eWallets.
According to a story on the history of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in RFID Journal,
received a patent in 1973 for an active RFID tag with rewritable memory and that same year “Charles Walton, a California entrepreneur, received a patent for a passive transponder used to unlock a door without a key. A card with an embedded transponder communicated a signal to a reader near the door. When the reader detected a valid identity number stored within the RFID tag, the reader unlocked the door. Walton licensed the technology to Schlage, a lock maker, and other companies.” Like many wireless pioneers, Walton got a start working with such technology for the military – in his case, the Army Signal Corps, after studying electrical engineering in college. He later spent a decade at IBM, then started his own company called Proximity Devices to make devices based on his wireless patents. The first patent to mention RFID, for a "portable radio frequency emitting identifier," was awarded to Proximity in 1983.