The concept of the home security system is nothing new. An intrusion door alarm was invented in the early 1700s. Much like today’s security systems, it alerted homeowners of potential intruders. It was invented by Tildesley, an English inventor who linked a set of chimes mechanically to a door lock. There were other early inventions, but home security was nowhere near as advanced as today’s smart home systems.
Early Advancements in Home Security
Milestones in home security systems enabled people to rely less on guard dogs and startled animals or mechanical equipment that wasn’t always reliable. Some important names in the evolution of security alarm systems include:
- Augustus Russel Pope: In 1853, Pope developed a prototype electro-magnetic alarm system in Boston. The battery-operated system activated when an electrical circuit was closed as a result of a door or window opening. A flow of current would cause the system’s magnets to vibrate and cause a hammer to strike a brass bell. Additional components kept the bell ringing even if a window or door was closed after the alarm was activated.
- Edwin Holmes: Although not the talented inventor Pope was, Holmes bought the rights to his invention and founded the first electrical alarm system company. He was also a master at advertising, targeting a general public that was skeptical about electricity in the 19th Holmes published the names of his prominent “burglar alarm telegraph” customers in New Yorker magazine and created a brand out of the system. He even connected his customers’ alarm systems to a central control station using the New York City telephone network.
- Edward A. Calahan: Calahan further developed this concept and helped form the American District Telegraph (ADT) in 1871. It divided New York City into districts connected to a central monitoring station. This was the first alarm system that could alert homeowners of a burglary and notify police and fire services simultaneously. Calahan’s emergency call boxes became standard for emergency and messenger services. His company later expanded to Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Chicago.
Video Surveillance and Fire Safety Emerges
While video surveillance technology existed in the 1940s, it didn’t become mainstream until the 1970s. The images were grainy at first, but users could see images of visitors on a television monitor. An early advancement was made in 1966, when nurse Marie Van Brittan Brown invented the first home video security system. It was the first time a remote control could be used to open a door.
During this same era, fire alarm technology evolved. Canadian researchers conducted a study in 1962 to examine the life-saving potential of heat and smoke detectors. They found that fatalities from residential fires could be reduced by 8% using heat detectors and 41% with smoke detectors.1 Between 1975 and 1998, smoke alarms attributed to a 50% drop in fire deaths in the U.S.
In the 1980s, security became a large part of home automation technology, as automated garage doors, infrared controls, and fiber optics became mainstream. These systems became more affordable in the 1990s. Today, automated home security systems are commonplace and controlled via familiar devices, including smartphones.
Security, Monitoring, and Automation with Boyd & Associates
Boyd & Associates offers complete burglar alarm, fire and life safety, and alarm monitoring systems. In addition to home automation services, commercial intrusion detection, access control, and video surveillance systems are also available. To learn more about the latest in automated home security systems and services, contact us at 805-321-6664 today!
- McGuire J, Ruscoe B (1962) Value of a Fire Detector in the Home, Fire Study No. 9. Division of Building Research, National Research Council of Canada, p 12
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