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When Spider-Man Invented Electronic Tagging

When Spider-Man Invented Electronic Tagging

The Star Trek communicator inspired the mobile phone. Big Brother inspired reality TV. But this is the Spider-Man newspaper strip that inspired its own technological innovation.

On August 9th, 1977, The Kingpin captured Spider-Man, as he was wont to do, but strapped on his wrist an "electronic radar device" so that the Big Bad could monitor Spider-Man at any time, wherever he was.

It was a strip read by one Judge Jack Love read, who thought "why not?"

And rather than used by the Kingpin of crime, it could be used against his pawns. The electronic tag.

Aimed to empty overcrowded jails, Mike Goss, friend of Love, left the electronics firm he was working at to create the judge's vision. His own company National Incarceration Monitoring and Control Services (NIMCOS) designed the device for the ankle rather than the wrist. After it was approved by the Supreme Court of New Mexico, offenders were released from prisons for home arrest with their ankle bracelets emitting a radio signal every minute, picked up by a receiver in the user's home.  If the tags were tampered with or they moved out of range, the alarms would go off. The company ran out of funding, but was then bought up by a larger fimr, that expanding the technology worldwide.

A quarter of a million are in use at any one time in the USA, but they all come from this one Spider-Man newspaper strip…

Thanks to Nat Gertler for the scan.

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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