Throughout the month of February, LumAware is celebrating Black History Month by highlighting African-Americans that made their mark in US History. This week, we are featuring the life of Marie Van Brittan Brown, the creator of the first closed-circuit security system. 

Homes and businesses are safer today thanks to the invention of Marie van Brittan Brown—the first home security system. 

Brown was born in Queens, New York, on October 22, 1922. She started her career working as a nurse. Her husband, Albert, worked as an electronics technician. Because of the nature of their work, they usually spend long hours out of their home and would return late at night. Because of the high crime rate in their neighborhood and the slow response of police, Brown needed a way to feel safer in their apartment. She thought that the best approach is to see and hear who is at the door from any room in their house.

In 1966, Brown designed a closed-circuit security system that consisted of three to four peepholes at various heights, a sliding camera, television monitors, and two-way microphones. A radio-controlled wireless system streams the image of anyone who is at the door to a monitor positioned anywhere in the house. At the same time, the two-way microphone will enable the resident to talk to the visitor from a safe and convenient distance.

Brown, along with her husband, filed the patent for her “home security system utilizing television surveillance” on August 1, 1966, the first of its kind. She was awarded her patent three years later on December 2, 1969. Although the system was originally designed for domestic use, businesses began to adopt her system due to its effectiveness. Brown later received an award from the National Scientists Committee for her invention.

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