RFID was first used in WW2 by the American armed forces to distinguish friendly from enemy aircraft and tanks. Systems that evolved from this are still employed by defense forces.
Over the years, the components of the system were further developed and applications expanded. In the 1970s for example, RFID was already being used to identify railroad cars or automobile parts in paint shops. Shortly afterwards electronic article surveillance appeared, the first large-scale system of its kind on the market. Its main purpose was to guard against theft of goods and clothing. At the end of the 20th century use of RFID was continuously expanding, into toll systems, subway tickets, as implants for animal identification and as an electronic immobilizer.
The technology became known to a wide public a few years ago when large supermarket concerns decided to document the delivery chain of their goods by means of RFID. Since then there have been many reports on RFID in the media, and its use has also frequently been the subject of controversy.