The Internet’s First Smart Device | Avast

The Internet’s First Smart Device | Avast

In 1990, there were 3 million people on the internet. (Today there are 1,000 times that many.) And while there were experiments – such as a “wired” soda machine at Carnegie Mellon University – there were no smart devices online, at least not as we think of them today. It was an internet of no things. (Today there are 7 billion – not including computers and mobile devices.) This is the story of the internet’s first thing, its secret enemies, its precious limited resources, and its long-term legacy. This is the story of John Romkey and the Sunbeam Deluxe Automatic Radiant Control toaster, the internet’s first thing. “It was ridiculous,” says Romkey, an internet pioneer who co-authored the first set of communications protocols allowing IBM computers to connect to the early internet in 1982. “That’s one reason we did it.” But there were serious reasons, too. The early Internet of Things has come into historical focus this summer with TOP SECRET , an exhibit at the London Science Museum now featuring cybersecurity and tech history. Romkey founded FTP Software in 1986, and his company built an early implementation of the internet protocol stack, TCP/IP. At a 1989 computer trade show called Interop, organizer Dan Lynch challenged him to put a device online and demonstrate it at the next year’s show. Romkey accepted the challenge. “I wanted to show what you could do with existing protocols,” says Romkey, who today consults and performs IoT research. They happened to pick the perfect device. The Sunbeam Deluxe Automatic Radiant Control – which Romkey still owns – was a clever device even before it was a “smart” device. “When you put bread into it, it would automatically lower the bread and begin toasting,” Romkey says. So all we had to do was control power to the toaster using a big, clunky notebook computer and wire them together. Remember, there was no Wi-Fi. Then we could use the computer to turn on the power to lower and toast the bread, and turn off the power to stop the toasting and raise the bread.” Little did Romkey know there were opposing forces determined to shut his brave little toaster down. The internet’s first thing was barely warming up, and it looked like it might already be toast. “The union working the trade show in the facility was really upset because we weren’t allowed to prepare food. That was in the contract,” Romkey says. “Even though no one was eating it, we were breaking the rules.” But no one told Romkey about the threat. The team just told him they had to keep using the same two pieces of bread – a compromise they worked out with the union. “All I knew was, we had to switch to very light toasting,” he says. What was the reception from the 1990 Interop crowd in San Jose, Calif.? “People were amused,” Romkey says. “They liked it. They thought it was interesting.” But few grasped issues he thought popped […]

Full article on original web page… securityboulevard.com

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