When people think of home security, female empowerment rarely comes to mind. The story behind security is a story of a pioneer African-American woman who changed the world and made history.

Marie Van Brittan Brown was a nurse and worked late into the night and returned at odd hours, sometimes even to an empty apartment. Her husband, Albert Brown, was an electronics technician and was away often. With burglary and crime rates in New York City steadily increasing in the 60’s, her neighborhood was becoming unsafe and police response times were slow.

Instead of relying on the authorities, Marie took personal safety into her own hands, and with the help of her husband, developed the first ever security system for her apartment in Jamaica, Queens in 1966.

Fast-forward more than half a century later, the security industry is valued to surpass $100 billion by 2020. Home security systems are forecasted to make up an estimated $47 billion of the total security market. Marie unknowingly invented something that has impacted millions of lives and will continue to do so in the next few decades. She may not be in history books, but her patent was a valuable contribution to society and can be

Her main issue was that if someone knocked at her door, she had no way of knowing who they were without opening it. To combat this problem, she designed a system that consisted of two cameras, two-way microphone and a button that sounds for an alarm in case of an intruder. Her door had four peepholes, so she attached a camera to a cabinet and placed it on the front door. If someone knocked on her door, the camera was able to slide up and down to look through the peephole and stream the footage to her monitor via a radio-controlled wireless system. The two-way microphone allowed her to speak to whoever was on the other side of the door, and she had a remote control that let her unlock the door.

In 1969, her patent was approved and soon her invention gave rise to modern home security systems like ours today. After she was awarded her patent, The New York Times reported the story, listing her husband’s name first then Marie’s name. However, Marie soon got her recognition and won an award from the National Scientists Committee.

In honor of Black History Month, we wanted to spotlight someone whose patent is the reason why we are even allowed to exist. Marie’s contributions has shaped our perception of personal safety and how we protect ourselves, our homes, and our families. Inspired by Marie and want to protect your home? Learn more about the security system and visit Protect America.