The science of fingerprint identification, or dactylography, began nearly 4,000 years ago in the “Fertile Crescent,” the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in present day Iraq. King Hammurabi (1955-1913 BC) used finger seals on contracts and law officers of the day were authorized to secure fingerprints of arrested persons.
In AD 650, nearly 600 years before Marco Polo visited “Cathay,” Chinese historian Kia Kung-Yen wrote of fingerprints used in an older method of preparing contracts. The law book of Yung-Hwui of the same period listed that the husband in a divorce decree had to sign the document with his fingerprint.
In AD 1100, Chinese novelist Shi-Naingan wrote in his book, The Story of the River Bank, “He compelled them to ink their fingers to record their fingerprints.”
1823 Nine fingerprints patterns documented
A different professor named Johannes Evengelista Purkinje documented nine specific patterns to help identify types of fingerprints. Even with his discovery, the use of fingerprints did not catch on quite yet.
1880 Fingerprints are used to identify someone
A doctor in Tokyo became very interested in fingerprinting. Dr Henry Faulds used fingerprints to identify who had left a stray bottle lying around—he matched fingerprints left on the bottle with a laboratory worker.
1896 Fingerprints use for criminal identification
International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), Establish National Bureau of Criminal Identification, for the exchange of arrest information
1901 Sir Edward Henry develops the first system of classifying fingerprints
Sir Edward Henry, an inspector general of police in the then Bengal, India, develops the first system of classifying fingerprints. This system of classifying fingerprints. This system of classifying fingerprints was first adopted as the official system in England, and eventually spread throughout.
1903 America begins using fingerprints
The New York Police Department, and others across the state, began using fingerprints as a way to identify people. Over the next few years, the practice slowly spread westward.
1911 First person to be convicted of murder in the US based on fingerprint evidence
In December 21, 1911, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld the admissibility of fingerprint evidence concluding that fingerprints are a reliable form of identification. Thomas Jennings was the first person to be convicted of murder in the US based on fingerprint evidence.
1924 Fingerprints move to FBI territory
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) took over the cataloguing of fingerprints in America. By 1971 they had over 200m fingerprints on file.
1969 FBI pushes to make fingerprint recognition an automated process
In 1969, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) began its push to develop a system to automate its fingerprint identification process, which was quickly becoming overwhelming and required many man-hours. The FBI contracted the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to study the process of automating fingerprint identification. NIST identified two key challenges: (1) scanning fingerprint cards and identifying minutiae and (2) comparing and matching lists of minutiae.
1974 First commercial hand geometry systems become available
The first commercial hand geometry recognition systems became available in the early 1970s, arguably the first commercially available biometric device after the early deployments of fingerprinting in the late 1960s. These systems were implemented for three main purposes: physical access control; time and attendance; and personal identification.
1990 Computerised fingerprinting
With the advancement in technology, programmes began using Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems. The AFIS’s scanned and stored fingerprints electronically.
1992 Biometric Consortium is established within US government
The National Security Agency initiated the formation of the Biometric Consortium and held its first meeting in October of 1992. The Consortium was chartered in 1995 by the Security Policy Board, which was abolished in 2001.
1994 Inspass is implemented
The Immigration and Naturalisdation Service Passenger Accelerated Service System (Inspass) was a biometrics implementation that allowed travellers to bypass immigration lines at selected airports throughout the US until it was discontinued in late 2004.
1999 FBI’s IAFIS major components become operational
IAFIS, the FBI’s large-scale ten-fingerprint (open-set) identification system, became operational. Prior to the development of the standards associated with this system, a fingerprint collected on one system could not be searched against fingerprints on another system.
2002 ISO/IEC standards committee on biometrics is established
The International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) established the ISO/IEC JTC1 Subcommittee 37 (JTC1 /SC37) to support the standardisation of generic biometric technologies. The Subcommittee develops standards to promote interoperability and data interchange between applications and systems.
2003 ICAO adopts blueprint to integrate biometrics into machine readable travel documents
On May, 28 2003, The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) adopted a global, harmonised blueprint for the integration of biometric identification information into passports and other Machine Readable Travel Documents (MRTDs).
2004 DOD implements Abis
The Automated Biometric Identification System (Abis) is a Department of Defence (DoD) system implemented to improve the US government’s ability to track and identify national security threats.
2008 US government begin coordinating biometric database use
Finger image and facial quality measurement algorithms and related toolset development was finalised. An iris quality measurement algorithm was also developed. The FBI and Department of Defence also started working on next generation databases designed to include iris, face and palm data, in addition to fingerprint records.
2010 US national security apparatus utilises biometrics for terrorist identification
A fingerprint from evidence collected at the believed 9/11 planning location was positively matched to a GITMO detainee. Other fingerprints were identified from items seized at other locations associated with 9/11.
2011 Biometric identification used to identify body of Osama bin Laden
Along with DNA, the CIA used facial recognition technology to identify the remains of Osama bin Laden with 95% certainty.
2013 Apple includes fingerprint scanners into consumer-targed smartphones
Touch ID is a fingerprint recognition feature, designed and released by Apple Inc., that was made available on the iPhone 5S, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the iPad Air 2, and the iPad Mini 3.
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