KM started in the 1980s in US and Scandinavian countries where earliest KM practitioners noted that private companies’ market value or capacity to generate income is increasingly due to their (intangible) intellectual capital (=knowledge assets) more than their tangible assets (=book value or net worth).
Something is tangible if it is entered in the accounting system of an organization, or, it is measured in money units and traded in the market. Among the earliest KM practitioners is Karl Erik Sveiby from Sweden. At around the same time, organizational learning as a discipline started in New England in the US by people like Peter Senge and Chris Argyris.
When personal computers appeared in the early 1980s, ICT as a tool of KM evolved rapidly. The people side of KM was recognized more through the work on tacit knowledge by Ikujiro Nonaka of Japan.
The push towards KM gained momentum with the growing realization that knowledge is the most important factor for value creation in the global knowledge economy. Three-fourths of Gross World Product is produced by intangible assets.