As long as there have been human beings who own property and have family to protect, there’s been a need for security. Primitive humans of the past might have been left with only the resources of sticks, stones, and bow and arrows, but modern humans now have a number of tools to keep ourselves safe.
In every era security looks different. Technological advancements of the time have an impact on what’s possible, and new features are added to the roster of protection capabilities. Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), the modern age has seen a wave of home automation that allows users to control their homes via smart-home technology at the click of the button, and from anywhere in the world that has internet connection.
With so much technology at our fingertips, it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come in just a few decades to have these possibilities. These technologies haven’t been around for long—especially in the home security sphere—so how did we get here? Let’s take a look at some of the technologies that came before us:
Home Security in the Earliest Civilizations
Depending on which point in history, which civilization or group of people, you’ll find a number of different means of home security unique to them and their time period.
In the Stone Age, humans mastered weaponry and then began using wolves to protect themselves. Wolves may have been one of the first tools humans used that alerted them of intruders. Through wolves humans had an animal that barked and growled if there was danger nearby. (This might explain the current affinity we have with dogs.)
Ancient Romans stopped intruders by using metal locks that were based off of cruder wooden Egyptian models from thousands of years ago. The Japanese built “cricket boards,” floors that were built with squeaky floorboards so ninjas couldn’t sneak in. And as we’ve seen in popular literature, and film, Medieval Europe was famous for the tools they surrounded the home with—moats, drawbridges, thick walls with dotted arrow slits, rows of pointy branches, and “murder holes” where guards would pour burning oils.
After World War I, Americans became more concerned with security and began to use a service known as “door shaking.” These were servicemen who would go about shaking doors knobs in neighborhoods at night to make sure that doors were locked.
Home Security Takes a Turn for the Modern
Credit for the first security alarm likely goes to Augustus pope. The Harvard graduate created an alarm that utilized electro-magnets. Pope worked alongside Edwin Holmes, Moses Farmer, and Alexander Graham bell as they developed their own inventions.
Pope’s system used magnetic contacts that were installed on any point of entry from the exterior. Once the system was turned on, it would detect if doors or windows were opened by sounding an alarm. His home burglary alarm was patented in 1853.
In 1867, Edwin A. Calahan, a qualified telegrapher had the idea of a central monitoring station. His idea was to place a call box in a neighborhood that would connect all of the houses to each other. The system used a distinct number of bell that would ring to distinguish which house an emergency was occurring at. He then realized that a system should not only trigger an alarm, but authorities should be alerted. This was the beginning of what would later become a central monitoring station.
Marie Van Brittan Brown, a nurse in Jamaica Queens, New York, together with her husband, has been credited for creating the beginning of home security video system. The couple thought up a solution to see who was at the front door.
In the 1980’s home security became more readily available. Before the 80’s home security was more common for businesses and wealthy homes, but it started to be used as a tools for working families in the country. Systems that were once marketed at high prices began to be scaled down and sold to households.
Thanks to the Internet of Things and the recent wave of home automation, we’ll continue to see home security evolve and advance.