As long as humans have had belongings, families, and traded goods, we’ve been conscious of the importance of protection. Now that humans have traded their huts and villages for homes, we have home security. 

As we discussed in a previous blog post, it was in 1960’s Queens that Marie Van Brittan Brown created and patented the home security device to guard her home. But in the many years before this official landmark of home security, what were other people and societies doing? Let’s take a look:

Humble Beginnings and Ancient Tools

We can date personal protection all the way back to the cavemen. They began by using branches and rocks as weapons, before moving on to slingshots and bows and arrows. They even began to rescue abandoned wolf cubs, raise them, and use them as tools for protection.

Back in Egypt around 3150 BC, people began digging trenches around their property and towns. These are what we now know as moats, the water filled barriers that protect people from intruders and unsolicited guests. In ancient Egypt, wooden pin locks were originally developed. They consisted of door fixtures, bolts and keys.

Ancient Nineveh is believed to be the birthplace of the lock and key. Scholars believe that they were used to secure a palace door.

In 18th century Europe we saw tumbler locks, and an Englishman named Robert Barron invented the double-acting lever lock in 1778. The deadbolt lock that is still used today is also a double-acting lock. This tool is a favorite because it is effective and low cost. It truly stood the test of time.

Locks have been around for a long time, but the Romans left their mark on this technology. Excavations of ancient Roman ruins found door locks, strongboxes, and safety deposit boxes with tumbler locks and padlocks. The earliest known examples date back over 2,000 years.

Eventually people began to use security guards, which are still used today. Celebrities, people with a lot of money, dignitaries like the Queen of England and British Parliament, and the President of the United States all use security guards. Of course you also see them at malls, various sporting events and other public events. 

Watchtowers and walls were also ancient tools that were viable means and used to protect cities. Think: Great Wall of China and Berlin Wall. These are known today as simply a fences, and barbed wire and other types have built in hazards to deter people. But police and government facilities don’t shy away from still using watchtowers and big walls to protect their borders, and sometimes keep people out like with prisons.

Europeans During the Dark Ages

The Romans, Greeks, Chinese, Egyptians, and other societies all had their own approach to home security, but the Europeans took it to extremes during the dark ages. What did they do?

After the fall of Rome, Europe was in chaos. Rulers fought for a share of the once great empire. To defend the new kingdoms, rulers built massive castles that could make it through attacks for months and sometimes years on end. (Think about some of the seemingly impenetrable structures that are present in the Lord of the Rings.)

The Europeans could have been seen as slightly too concerned, but they built some innovative structures. Some towers were designed for defense with double gates that could trap intruders inside. And as anyone who’s been to Europe and taken a tour of some of these palaces knows, the security measures during the medieval times were much more vicious than today.

Patent Number 9802 and What It Means for Security

Augustus Pope gets credit for the first patented home alarm system in 1853. His alarm was simple. It used an electrical circuit rigged to a bell to sound an alarm whenever a door was opened. The only problem was that the alarm would stop whenever the opened door or window was closed.

This patent was sold to Edwin Holmes who became known as “The Father of the Modern Security Industry.” Holmes purchased the patent for $9,800 in 1858, which means it would nearly be worth $250,000 in 2017. Pope died shortly after selling his patent.

E.A. Callahan, the First Monitored Fire and Burglar Alarm

The first monitored fire and burglar alarm was created by E.A. Callahan in 1871. This system used telegraph signals and even developed a central monitoring station to keep track of all alarms. More fascinating, Callahan also invented the stock ticker, ticker tape, and the multiplex telegraph system.

Callahan’s basic model for central monitoring is still in place today. But with his other inventions, it’s almost as if he not only invented these technologies, but the tools that would be used to track them in the marketplace.