Twenty years ago, Kevin Ashton sat in his cubicle at Procter & Gamble’s research and development offices in Egham, Surrey, just 17 miles from the London Science Museum now featuring cybersecurity and tech history in the exhibit Top Secret. On the screen of his IBM ThinkPad laptop was a PowerPoint presentation. It needed a name.
For six months the 30-year-old computer scientist had tried to persuade P&G to put radio frequency identification tags and other sensors on products in the supply chain. The tags and sensors would generate data about where the products were, whether they’d been scanned in a warehouse, or placed on a shelf, or sold.