Charles Walton (inventor)

Charles Walton (1921 – November 6, 2011[1][2]) is best known as the first patent holder for the RFID (radio frequency identification) device. Many individuals contributed to the invention of the RFID, but Walton was awarded ten patents in all for various RFID-related devices, including his key 1973 design for a "Portable radio frequency emitting identifier".[3] This patent was awarded in 1983, and was the first to bear the acronym "RFID".[4]

Charles Walton grew up in Maryland and New York State, and graduated from George School in 1939. He graduated from Cornell University in 1943 with a degree in Electrical engineering, and received a master's degree from Stevens Institute of Technology.[3]

After service in the Army Signal Corps, Charles Walton worked at IBM's research and development laboratories until 1970. He founded the company Proximity Devices, Inc., in Sunnyvale, California in 1970, to manufacture devices based on his patents.

Charles Walton was a major donor to the Walton lighthouse at the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor, named in honor of his brother Derek, who was in the Merchant Marine and died of polio in the early 1950s.


Walton died on November 6, 2011, at the age of 89.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b Dean Takahashi (November 27, 2011). "Charlie Walton, inventor of RFID, passes away at 89". VentureBeat. Retrieved 2011-12-01. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b "Charles Walton, father of RFID technology, dies at 89". Engadget. Retrieved 2011-12-01. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b "RFID Contributions". Inventor of the Week. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 2005. Archived from the original on 25 October 2005. Retrieved 1 Nov 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Charles A. Walton "Portable radio frequency emitting identifier" U.S. Patent 4,384,288 issue date 17 May 1983.