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The Definitive History of Home Security Systems

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When we think about our home security systems, high-tech sensors, alarms and CCTV footage usually come to mind. But have you ever wondered where and when it all started?

Home security isn’t a new concept. In fact, evidence shows that back in 2,000 BC the Ancient Egyptians were using wooden pin tumbler blocks with a lock and key mechanism to protect their homes and themselves. Continuing into Roman times, these mechanisms were updated with metal, along with the common use of animals acting as security guards to ward off unwanted visitors.

From these initial methods of simple locks and bolts to sophisticated electronic security systems, let’s view the history of home security systems and see how it has evolved over the years.


History of Home Security Systems


Early 1700s

English inventor, Tildesley, created the first door alarm using chimes and mechanically attaching them to a door lock. When an intruder used a skeleton key to enter, the chimes would sound, alerting the occupier. Although simple, it proved very effective for the current time and was the start of the modern age history to home security systems.


19th Century

The 18th century saw a real shift in technology and mechanics, a defining moment within the industrial revolution, as well as the introduction of electricity into everyday life.

1853 – The first electromagnetic alarm system was created by US born Augustus Pope, using electricity, magnets and alarm bells all installed above door frames. Pope took inspiration from the method of telegrams, which used electromagnetism to deliver electrical pulse signals on a wire.

Although a new and innovative invention of the time, the electromagnetic alarm system was yet to take off with the general public, due to apprehensions and scepticism towards newfound electricity, due to fears of danger and even death.

1857 – Further versions and improvements were made on Pope’s original design by fellow American Edwin Holmes, who bought the rights to Pope’s invention, and effectively mass-marketed his security alarm in New York.

1868 –  By this time, Holmes had fitted over 1,200 alarms and upgraded his original product with an attached clock, which allowed the alarm to be turned on and off. He also added a latching circuit which meant the alarm bell would not stop ringing unless the system was manually reset, a concept that we still adopt in today’s home security systems.

1877 – This was the year that Holmes established the first monitored alarm network, overlooked by a central monitoring station.


The 20th Century

 This concept only expanded with the use of pre-existing telephone lines and by the early 20th century all alarm systems were linked to emergency call systems, such as the police.

1970s – The 70s saw the creation of motion sensors, that worked by the emission of ultrasonic waves. When tripped, an alarm would be triggered and ring. These were implemented into home security systems and added an extra sense of security to people’s homes. However, false alarms were a common occurrence due to pets and passers-by.

The 1970s also saw the use of video surveillance used in the home as an act of security in the form of CCTV. Although the technology was developed back in the 1940s, it wasn’t until later that the concept was commercialised, albeit with grainy images.

1980s – The invention of infrared technology is a major milestone in the history of home security systems. By detecting changes in heat rather than solely movement, it acted to reduce the amount of false alarms and helped improve the affordability of a home alarm system.

1990s – Infrared technology also aided the concept of home automation, in terms of automated garage doors and infrared controls and remotes. Today, we have taken these initial developments and applied them to our security systems to create automated actions as well as the ability to control security features via smartphones.


Present Day

Today, we are in the age of smart home security systems. These are systems that are all interconnected and controlled via smart devices and can be done remotely, from anywhere in the world. In addition, all information and footage is store online via the cloud.

Home security systems definitely wouldn’t be where they are today without the initial invention of Augustus Pope and the development and innovation of his predecessors, so it’s important to look back on the history of home security systems to see how far we have really come.

At Homewatch, we provide multiple smart home security solutions to protect your possessions, property and loved ones. Get in touch for a free, no-obligation quotation and see how we can help to secure your home.


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