The Pillars were created by Sentinel Prime on Cybertron, and when he attempted escaping on The Ark, the ship crashed on the Moon in 1969. There, hundreds of them were left lying around for nearly forty years, and in that time, various Decepticons raided the ship and stole the Pillars until there were only five left (including the Control Pillar) until 2011, when Optimus Prime and Ratchet arrived on the Moon via the Xantium to resurrect Sentinel, and by surprise to them, they find the five Pillars and take them back to Earth.
The Pillars were locked up in a secured vault in the NEST base, until the traitorous Sentinel Prime steals them after having killed Ironhide. He later meets up with Megatron in Chicago, and they send out a message to hundreds of Decepticons to spread the Pillars out across the world (and even into space).
Throughout the Chicago battle, the Autobots fight to destroy the Control Pillar to prevent the Space Bridge from transporting Cybertron to Earth, until Optimus manages to end the chaos by shooting it down with Shockwave's arm cannon, and it falls to the ground, partially functioning. Sam Witwicky and Dylan Gould fight each other over deactivating and re-activating the Control Pillar. Dylan succeeds, to which he asks Sam if he thinks he's a hero, to which Sam replies and rams Dylan into the Control Pillar, where he is electrocuted. Ratchet, Bumblebee, and the other Autobots arrive at the scene. Ratchet manages to disable the Pillar permanently, and Bumblebee crushes it.