Science fiction hinted at futuristic homes that would control appliances, assist and provide service, and keep people protected as early as Ray Bradbury’s short story “There Will Come Soft Rains.” This short-story told of a house that had home automation though no one lived in it.

We saw home automation in Marty Fly’s futuristic kitchen in “Back to the future II.” Disney’s “Smart House” showed us what happens when the house attacks, and the Jetsons gave us a vision of what the future will look when robots assist the home.

In these examples we see that humans have envisioned future homes that would use technology to make life easier for quite sometime. If you’ve used our home automation tools here at Protect America, you’ve likely realized how useful and convenient IoT (Internet of Things) and home automation is. But when did these ideas come about? Who invented these notions of smart devices? Let’s take a look at the history:

The Early Years of Automation

The earliest we can attribute any device to resembling an automation tool is Nikola Tesla’s invention of a remote control toy boat in 1898. This was the first time an object that was meant to be used at the home and automated.

1901 saw the first vacuum cleaner, and in the decades that followed the washing machine, the clothes dryer, clothes iron, refrigerator, dishwasher, garbage disposal, and many other home appliances were created.

The world’s fair in Chicago and New York officially introduced the concept of home automation in 1930. People were fascinated by the concept. But if we’re really crediting someone for home automation, we may be able to trace it back to Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce, the pair who created the computer chip in 1950. This technology is the basis of many of our tools today.

In 1969, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), introduced ARPANET (The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), the very first network in the world which was the precursor to the internet and IoT.

A few devices were created in the late 19th century. A 1966 device named the Echo IV was capable of making shopping lists and turning some home appliances on and off and control temperature, but it was never sold on the market.

A 1969 Honeywell device, the company that is still known in today’s home industry for various products, created a kitchen device that wrote down and created recipes. This product was too expensive and never obtained commercial success.

The most coincidental of all smart home technology, is that the idea really came about in 1984, the same year that was imagined in George Orwell’s famous dystopian novel. This is when the American Association of House Builders officially coined the term “Smart Home.”

Later on in 1989 we saw “The Clapper,” the device that would turn lights on and off with a simple clap of the hands.

But by the 1980’s, home automation was commonplace in the home thanks to items like garage doors, home security systems, motion sensing lights, fiber optics, thermostats and other tech. In 1991 we saw the creation of devices that would alert of elderly people falling down.

The Future of Home Automation

If the timeline of the beginning of home automation tells it’s anything, once the smart home term was coined in 1984 we truly saw a boom in objects that were used in the home and powered by technology. In this example, the boost in technological products seemed to happen around the same time.

Within the last few years we’ve seen home automation products like thermostats, door-locks, and the IoT’s ability to connect all the devices in the home really take off.

Only time will tell what the future will hold, but it’s likely that just about every item in your house will have the capability to be automated. We’re excited to lead the way.