Fingerprint identification history

The history of fingerprint identification goes back several millennia. Even in Ancient Babylon and China, fingerprints were made on clay tablets and seals. Archaeologists periodically come across such images during excavations, and in the 14th century on the territory of Persia, important documents were certified by fingerprints.

In each fingerprint, you can define two types of attributes – global and local. The skin grooves at our fingertips appear in a six month old fetus and persist throughout life. This feature and ease of obtaining a fingerprint made fingerprinting the first biometric method recognized in forensic science. The first scientific work on fingerprinting was done in the second half of the 17th century (approximately 1665) by Marcello Malfigi. He publishes a treatise on the uniqueness of fingerprints. In the future, the development of fingerprint identification began to be dealt with by the French criminologist Quetelet, whose idea was finalized by the criminologist A. Bertillon, as director of the French police, he carried out the procedure for taking fingerprints from all detainees. This allowed him to create a large index of fingerprints with which he solved many crimes.

Simultaneously with A. Bertillon, the Englishman William Herschel (in some sources he is referred to as William Herschel) was engaged in the issue of personal identification, who was interested in fingerprints left on paper or glass.

In 1853-1878, William Herschel worked in one of the Indian colony and was often faced with fraudulent salaries for Indian soldiers, who were all the same for him and came to receive money several times. To stop the deception, Herschel began to require the soldiers to leave their fingerprint in the records. As soon as the innovation took effect, then all the machinations stopped.

This study of “bizarre patterns” of the fingers did not end there, and Herschel continued to study fingerprints for another 20 years. In 1858, Herschel proposed the use of fingerprinting in one of the county’s prisons.

This was the beginning of the practical use of fingerprints in forensic science. Herschel’s main achievement is that he proved the invariability of fingerprints throughout human life. Even after death, fingerprints do not change. But the most important thing in his research was that human papillary patterns do not coincide in their structure and structure with the fingerprints of other people.

Regardless of Herschel, the idea of ​​using fingerprints to establish an identity was expressed by Henry Foulds, who worked at a Tokyo hospital. Henry Foulds began studying fingerprints in 1870 after discovering a fingerprint on an ancient pottery. Folds found out that it is not necessary to ink them when taking fingerprints. He found that through the outlet of the sweat glands, a fatty secretion is secreted at the fingertips, which leaves an imprint of papillary lines as clear as soot or paint.

Folds took fingerprints from his servants, and later he compared them to those left on a glass, plate, or other objects. As a result of the comparison, he found that the prints in his collection completely coincide with the fingerprints left by the servant on the glass. This discovery allowed Folds to conclude that this identification method would be indispensable in forensic science.

In 1880, his article on this was published in the British scientific journal Nature. Henry Foulds developed a fingerprint classification system and was the first to identify a fingerprint on a glass bottle. In 1892, Folds compiled a fingerprinting manual offering fingerprinting of all ten fingers.

At the same time on another continent, Argentine police officer Juan Vucenic begins to collect and catalog fingerprints. She also uses the prints to prove Francisca Rojas’ ultimate guilt in the murder of her neighbor. The policeman determines that her print is identical to the partial blood trail at the crime scene.

Francis Galton is considered the founder of human fingerprint identification. In 1897 he managed to combine the discoveries of Herschel and Folds with the systematization of Bertillon.

Galton, using the theory of probability, established that the possible coincidence of a fingerprint of any particular finger of one person with the fingerprint of another person is expressed in a ratio of 1: 4, and the prints of ten fingers of one person are expressed in a ratio of 1: 64,000,000,000. Another important contribution of Galton to fingerprinting is that he brought many papillary lines into a single system. He established that there are only four main groups of patterns: with a triangle, without a triangle, left and right with a triangle, and this classification was the basis of his card index. However, in his card index, arcs were less common than other patterns, there was a tendency to repeat the same basic pattern on certain fingers. As a result, a large number of cards were collected in separate drawers of the filing cabinet, while others were practically empty. Finding matching prints quickly was out of the question.

Another way of organizing the ball fingerprint images was proposed in 1896 by the inspector general of the Bengal Police, Edward Henry. He divides the patterns on the fingers into five main ones: simple and complex arcs, loops directed towards the thumb or little finger, and swirls.

Then Edward Henry refined the drawing, which Galton called a triangle (delta), the delta could be formed by a bifurcation of one papillary line or two diverging lines. Henry defined external and internal limits for them. If you draw a straight line between the outer and inner limits and count the papillary lines crossed by this straight line, then their number will be different for different people. Henry proposed to put this principle in the basis of the grouping, by deriving a formula on the basis of which a fingerprint classification system would be created.

Henry reported his discovery to the Governor General of British India. And already in 1897, by order of the Governor-General on the territory of British India, identification by the Bertellon method was canceled and the method of registering criminals proposed by Henry was introduced, which gave great results in the field of identification. In 1903, the fingerprint was first used in the criminal case against the Strenton brothers, who killed the owner of a shop in Dentford.

Henry’s main idea is to encode patterns with numerical formulas. The species were designated by the letters A, T, R, U, W, and the subspecies were designated by numbers. Henry’s method was the forerunner of the classification system used by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies for years.

Various countries around the world introduced fingerprint methods over the next one and a half to two decades. In Denmark, fingerprinting was first used to identify a criminal in 1902. And in Russia, fingerprinting has been used since 1906.

In 1969, the FBI began developing a system for automating the fingerprint identification process. To this end, the FBI contracts with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to study the process of automating human fingerprint identification. NIST identifies two main issues: the first is fingerprint scanning and identification of distinguishing features, and the second is the comparison and contrast of features.

In 1975, the FBI funds the development of sensors and sensors for scanning fingerprint patterns to reduce the cost of storing digital information. Early sensors used capacitive methods to collect characteristics of fingerprints. Over the next decades, NIST focuses on the development of automated methods for digitizing fingerprints and image compression, classifying, extracting, and matching parts. NIST research results in the M40, the first computer-based fingerprint matching algorithm used by the FBI.

In 1986, NIST worked with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to create the ANSI / NBS-I CST 1-1986 standard for the exchange of fingerprint pattern data. This is the first version of existing standards that are now used by law enforcement agencies around the world.

In 1994, three main problems were investigated: digital fingerprinting, local furrow characterization, and furrow matching. Lockheed Martin has won an Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) competition for the FBI. It is believed that the Hungarian company RECOWARE built the first Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) to support the printing of fingerprints.

In 1997, the palm and fingerprint technology built into RECOderm is bought by Lockheed Martin Information Systems. In the same year, IAFIS begins work. During the development of the system, scientists considered issues related to the exchange of information between autonomous systems, and also studied the implementation of a national system for determining fingerprints. IAFIS is used to check people’s criminal records and identify hidden fingerprints found at crime scenes.

A Swedish film producer and hobby inventor named Bo Löfberg was at the Cannes Film Festival in the early 80’s and one evening after having dinner at a restaurant, he noted the waiter’s somewhat fluffy fingerprint on his credit card when he got his credit card back after have paid the bill. The flimsy fingerprint on the card led to a patent application and Löfberg was granted the patent in 1983. Unfortunately, Bo Löfberg died as early as 1986, but Lennart Carlson (who acquired the patent from an estate) liked the idea and founded the company Fingerprint Cards in 1997 in Gothenburg.

In 1999, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Technical Advisory Group on Machine Readable Travel Documents (TAG or MRTD) began research on the compatibility of biometric and machine readable travel documents. Research objectives – creation of international standards for multiservice data transmission.

In 2003, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) adopted a globally agreed plan for integrating biometric identification information into passports and other machine-readable documents (MRDIs). Three biometric characteristics are approved for the passport: face, fingerprint, and iris.

In 2013, Apple is introducing Touch ID to its smartphones.

Fingerprinting of corpses without changing the skin of the hands is carried out in order to:

  • Revealing the identity of the corpse
  • Comparisons with footprints from the scene
  • Comparisons of handprints from unsolved crime scenes

Before the fingerprinting procedure, the hands of the corpse are first washed with cold water, and then warm, after which the hands are wiped dry and degreased.

Fingerprinting of corpses in case of damage or destruction of the epidermis of the fingers is difficult and requires preliminary preparation. This is due to the fact that when exposed to moisture, the epidermis is separated, forming a papillary pattern, and when the human body is mummified, dehydration and drying of tissues occurs, which contributes to the compaction of the skin of the hands and non-expanding folds appear on them. And to obtain high-quality fingerprints, it is necessary to carry out fingerprinting in laboratory conditions. This procedure belongs to investigative measures, and therefore, to carry out these actions, an appropriate decree is necessary.