Biometric history indicates that the science did not originate at a single place. People all over the world were using the basics for mainly identifying individuals from each other. We'll explain about biometric history in brief over the next few paragraphs.
The history of biometrics dates back to a long time. Possibly the most primary known instance of biometrics in practice was a form of finger printing being used in China in the 14th century, as reported by explorer Joao de Barros.
Barros wrote that the Chinese merchants were stamping children's palm prints and footprints on paper with ink so as to differentiate the young children from one another. This is one of the most primitive known cases of biometrics in use and is still being used today.
Apart from its Chinese genesis, use of biometrics was also noted elsewhere in the world. Up until the late 1800s, identification largely relied upon "photographic memory". In the 1890s, an anthropologist and police desk clerk in Paris,Alphonse Bertillon, decided to fix the problem of identifying convicted criminals and turned biometrics into a distinct field of study.
Bertillon developed a technique of multiple body measurements which later got named after him - Bertillonage. His method was then used by police authorities throughout the world, until it quickly faded when it was discovered that some people shared the same measurements and based on the measurements alone, two people could get treated as one.
After the failure of Bertillonage, the police started using finger printing, which was developed by Richard Edward Henry of Scotland Yard, essentially reverting to the same methods used by the Chinese for years. (which still is going strong !)
Biometric history in the recent past (three decades) has seen drastic advancements and the technology has moved from a single method (fingerprinting) to more than ten prudent methods. Companies involved with new methods have grown into the hundreds and continue to improve their methods as the technology available to them also advances. Prices for the hardware required continue to fall making systems more feasible for low and mid-level budgets and thus making this more adaptable in small businesses and even households.
As the industry grows however, so does the public concern over privacy issues. Laws and regulations continue to be drafted and standards are beginning to be developed. While no other biometric has yet reached the breadth of use of fingerprinting, some are beginning to be used in both legal and business areas.