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Massachusetts, Home of IoT

July 5, 2017

April 29, 2024

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The Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council recently released a report (download it here) on the Internet of Things (IoT) that contained some interesting historical perspective on a fairly modern topic.  

Tive is located in Boston so I'm a bit biased toward Massachusetts, but even I was surprised by how big a role the Boston area has played in the development of IoT.

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Before the IoT there Were Callboxes

Remember fire callboxes? You still see them all over major cities. Invented in 1852 by Dr. William Francis Channing and manufactured by the company he founded, Gamewell Fire Alarm Company, these boxes have saved many lives and buildings over the years. Digital circuits? Nope. High speed data connection? Nope. But the idea of using the then-new telegraph system to connect remote sensors to a central alarm bank is not all that different from many of today's IoT concepts.

Alexander Graham Bell Lived Here

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The father of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, moved to Boston in 1871, and it was here that he invented the telephone. In fact the famous words, "Mr. Watson, come here — I want to see you" were spoken just  1 block from where I'm sitting now. He also formed Bell Telephone which became AT&T, one of the most important "network" companies of the 20th century.

And of Course, the Internet

In February 1958, the Advanced Projects Research Agency was created (which later became DARPA).  Many early DARPA projects that later became core internet technologies were created in and around Boston, including computer graphics, AI, and mouse-controlled interfaces.  In 1968, Bolt, Berenak & Newman (BBN), located in Cambridge, MA, was awarded a contract to build what eventually became ARPANET, precursor to the Internet.

Today, a Flood of Innovation

Building on this foundation of innovation, today Massachusetts is home to more than 60 companies involved in the Internet of Things. The Mass TLC report provides a detailed list of these companies, which range from PTC (offering a variety of platform tools) to GE (wiring up everything from jet engines to MRI machines) to a variety of startups such as Tank Utility (monitoring remote propane tanks), Concrete Sensors (measuring the cure rate of concrete from the inside), and other great companies. The report also points out that Boston is a hub for many of the underlying technologies required to successfully implement IoT: electronics, software, security, even robotics.

We're excited to be in such a great location and helping to build such a great ecosystem. Thanks to the Mass TLC for their research highlighting Boston’s key role in the history and future of IoT!

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