Home security systems are ubiquitous nowadays. With crime on the rise, more and more people are turning to advanced security systems to keep their homes and families safe. But did you ever wonder who invented the home security system?
Surprisingly, the inventor was a black woman named Marie Van Brittan Brown. Her pioneering invention in 1966 predated modern closed-circuit television (CCTV) and wireless security systems by several decades.
So who was Marie Van Brittan Brown and how did she come to invent the first home security system? Let’s take a look at the fascinating story behind one of the most important home technology innovations of the 20th century.
Marie Van Brittan Brown – The Inventor Behind the World’s First Home Security System
Marie Van Brittan Brown was born in 1922 in Jamaica, Queens in New York City. She was an African American nurse and electronics technician who lived with her husband Albert Brown.
In 1966, the Browns lived in a dangerous neighborhood with a high crime rate. Marie often worked late shifts as a nurse and would come home to an empty house at night. This made her feel unsafe and vulnerable.
To help protect herself and her home, Marie decided to invent a home security system utilizing television surveillance. Along with her husband Albert, who was an electronics technician, they developed the first system of its kind ever made.
The World’s First Home Security System
Marie Van Brittan Brown created the first home security system that was a precursor to the modern systems we use today. Her revolutionary invention consisted of several ingenious components:
- Four peepholes – These allowed Marie to look outside her door without being seen.
- A camera – This was pointed outside the door and could slide up and down to give a wide view. The camera fed into a monitor screen inside the house.
- A two-way microphone – This allowed Marie to speak with anyone outside her door.
- An emergency alarm button – This button could alert the police or neighbors of danger if pressed.
- A remote-controlled door lock – This allowed Marie to let someone in from inside her house.
This security system allowed Marie to visually monitor her home’s exterior from the comfort and safety of the indoors. She could then speak with or screening visitors before letting them inside. If she felt threatened, she could sound the alarm immediately by pressing a button near her hand.
A Pioneering Invention Ahead of Its Time
Marie Van Brittan Brown filed a patent application for her “Home Security System Utilizing Television Surveillance” in 1966. The patent was granted in 1969 as patent US 3510866 A.
This was the first home security system patent ever issued. Her clever invention predated systems using closed-circuit TV cameras, wireless alarm systems, and video doorbells by several decades!
The Brown’s security device would have been considered highly futuristic in 1966. But Marie had the foresight to see how visual monitoring and remote-control locks could help protect homeowners. Her creative solution to use television technology for home surveillance was groundbreaking.
Unfortunately, due to racism and sexism at the time, Marie Van Brittan Brown was not recognized for this remarkable achievement in her lifetime. But modern home security owes a huge debt to this pioneering black female inventor.
The Impact and Legacy of Marie Van Brittan Brown’s Invention
Thanks to Marie Van Brittan Brown’s brilliance, the first home security system came into being in 1966. Home security changed forever thanks to her visionary thinking and problem-solving.
Some key impacts of Marie Van Brittan Brown’s invention include:
- Gave birth to the home security industry – Her system inspired future entrepreneurs to found home security companies and develop commercial solutions based on her original concept.
- Inspired modern security systems – Her innovations like CCTV cameras, alarm triggers, locks, and audio/video monitoring became standard features in security systems for decades after.
- Enabled vulnerable people to feel safer – Seniors, women home alone, and any homeowner in dangerous areas could now better secure their houses against break-ins, theft, and assault.
- Prevented crime and deterred criminals – Surveillance cameras and alarm systems acted as crime deterrents and helped police capture criminal activity on tape as evidence.
- Advanced the field of consumer electronics – Marie’s clever use of television technology paved the way for further electronics innovations to enter the mainstream consumer market.
While primitive by today’s standards, Marie’s security system introduced concepts that feel very familiar today. Her invention laid the groundwork for modern smart home technology using remote access, cameras, and integrated home networks.
It took many decades, but Marie Van Brittan Brown is finally gaining recognition for her pioneering work. She overcame racial and gender barriers to bring about one of the most important home innovations of the 20th century. Marie’s story is an inspiration for young black women pursuing STEM fields today.
The forgotten history of Marie Van Brittan Brown is slowly being uncovered. Next time your doorbell camera alerts you to a visitor or you arm your security system on your phone, remember the brilliant woman who first introduced these ideas over 50 years ago!
Frequently Asked Questions About Marie Van Brittan Brown and Her Revolutionary Invention
Marie Van Brittan Brown’s development of the first home security system in 1966 was an incredible achievement. Here are answers to some common questions about this inventor and her pioneering home security system.
Who was Marie Van Brittan Brown?
Marie Van Brittan Brown was an African American nurse and inventor who lived in Queens, New York City in the 1960s. Concerned about crime in her neighborhood, she invented the first home security system in 1966 along with her husband Albert Brown.
Why did she invent the home security system?
Marie often came home late at night from work as a nurse. She lived in a high-crime area and wanted to feel safer in her own home. This led her to invent a closed circuit television system for home surveillance and protection.
What did the home security system she invented do?
Marie’s system used peepholes, a camera, a monitor, a two-way microphone, an alarm button, and a remote-controlled door lock. This allowed her to see, hear, and communicate with visitors from inside her home. She could then remotely unlock her door using the TV monitor.
How was her home security system innovative for the time?
In 1966, her invention was revolutionary. It introduced video surveillance, alarm triggers, wireless communication, and remote-control – concepts that would become standard in home security decades later. This was the first patent ever issued for a home security system.
Did Marie Van Brittan Brown earn money from her invention?
Unfortunately, despite her system pioneering the home security industry, there is no evidence Marie earned any money. Due to racism and sexism at the time, her achievement went unrecognized. But her patent laid the groundwork for future home security systems.
Why did her role as inventor go unrecognized for so long?
As an African American woman in the 1960s, Marie faced racism, discrimination, and disregard of her accomplishments. Society often overlooked or discounted the innovations of minorities and women. But Marie’s rightful place in history is finally being recognized.
Marie Van Brittan Brown was a true pioneer whose home security system forever changed the way people protect their homes. Her forgotten story deserves to be known and celebrated. She is an inspiration for young women of color who want to follow her footsteps in science and technology.
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