Home security systems today use some of the most advanced surveillance technology known to man, and to think they didn’t come to exist until the late 1960s. Thanks to inventor Marie Van Brittan Brown, the idea for a home surveillance device transformed into building the foundation for what we now consider our modern-day security systems.
Brown — who’s also credited for inventing the first closed circuit television — pioneered the very first first home security system and filed the patent that has influenced the kind of security technology installed in millions of today’s single-family homes, apartment buildings, and office buildings for small businesses around the world.
According to Face2Face Africa, Brown took an unconventional path as an inventor. In fact, she began her professional career as a nurse who worked odd hours outside of the traditional 9-5 job. Her husband Albert Brown also worked many late nights away from home as an electronics technician.
Brown often worried about being home at late hours all alone, so back in 1966 she took matters into her own hands and teamed up with her husband to devise a plan to create a home security system — meant to help her feel safer in the apartment she occupied and also see who and what was at her front door from any room in her home.
By creating a motorized camera attached to a cabinet added to the front door, the home security system was able to take views through four separate peep holes to identify visitors both short and tall.
Additionally, Brown’s radio-controlled wireless invention included a feature that permitted images to be transferred to one or multiple monitors and allow a person to speak to visitors through a set of two-way microphones, Timeline reports.
The device’s remote control option also allowed a person to unlock a door from a safe and more convenient distance.
Upon creating this innovative device, the Browns filed a patent application on Aug. 1, 1966, and three years later Brown was finally awarded her patent on Dec. 2, 1969.
When The New York Times reported on the story four days later, it credited the new patent as a remarkable security concept.
“With the patented system, a woman alone in the house could alarm the neighborhood immediately by pressing a button, and installed in a doctor’s office it might prevent holdups by drug addicts.”
When Brown was asked about her future plans, she stated that she planned to install the device in her and her husband’s Queens home while also exploring manufacturing options, Timeline shares.
By 2013, over a dozen inventors had cited the Brown patent for their own technological devices, and she later received her long overdue flowers in the form of an award from the National Scientists Committee.
Marie Van Brittan Brown died in Queens on Feb. 2, 1999, leaving behind two children.
Brown was an ingenious inventor far ahead of her time. Her creation introduced “CCTV” use into homes and started the first of a long string of home-security systems that continue to flood the market today.