The Internet of Things may seem like a very modern concept but some of the core Industry 4.0 technologies date back as far as the 1960s. The programmable logic controller (PLC) - effectively an early industrial computer - was invented in 1968 and designed to finetune the manufacturing process. The first distributed control systems for industrial settings appeared in the 1970s, sparking the gradual supplementation of manual labour with automation within factories.
The Internet of Things as we know it today first came into focus during the following decade. However, it was not until the early 2000s that the IoT first began to move out of university laboratories and into purchasable products. This growth was accelerated by the development of enabling technologies like Bluetooth, near field communication (NFC), and 4G/5G cellular networks.
Further developments followed in the 2000s, including the creation of the now-ubiquitous cloud computing technologies which accelerated the evolution of the IIoT.
Who Coined the Term IIoT and Industry 4.0?
We know where the Internet of Things originally came from, but it is trickier to pinpoint who coined IIoT.
The term ‘Industry 4.0’ was coined as recently as 2011 by the German government to encourage the use of information technology in manufacturing. It was intended to suggest that modern automation and data sharing technology is equal in significance to three previous industrial revolutions, namely:
- The development of steam and water-powered manufacturing technology in the latter half of the 18th and first half of the 19th-Century
- Widespread electrification, alongside the spread of the railways in the latter half of the 19th-Century, enabling multiple technological and industrial developments. The telephone, the automobile, photography and motion pictures all appeared between approximately 1870 and the beginning of World War One
- The digital revolution - i.e. the creation of modern IT in the second half of the 20th-Century
We may not know who coined the term ‘Industrial Internet of Things’ for certain, but the name ‘Industry 4.0’ makes logical sense and helps to boost understanding of the meaning behind the concept.