RIP RFID: Charles Walton Passes Away

Charles Walton, hailed as the “Father of RFID”, died at age 89.

In 1973, Charles Walton received his patent for a passive RFID transponder that could unlock a door without a key. He had a card with an embedded transponder that communicated a signal to an RFID reader near the door. When the reader detected a valid id number, the door unlocked.

Walton got his start by studying electrical engineering in college, going on to work with technology for the military, and then spending a decade at IBM. He eventually started his own company, Proximity Devices, receiving over 50 patents and making millions from his creations. Unfortunately, many of his patents expired in the mid-1990s, just as many government agencies were adopting RFID.

Perhaps he was just a tad before his time, but Walton’s vision, and work, will always live on and play a large role in the history of RFID. A memorial service will be held in his honor at 3:00 p.m. on Dec. 18, in Los Gatos, Calif. at the Unitarian Fellowship.