Thursday, April 9, 2015

H is for Home Security System: Inventions by Women A-Z

Marie Van Brittan Brown (1922-1999)
 Home security systems were practically non existent in the mid-1960s, but Marie Van Brittan Brown (Jamaica, Queens, NY) wanted to feel safe in her home when she was alone, and as a nurse, she often came home at odd hours. Crime was up in her neighborhood and the police response rate was low. 

I can relate to Marie's insecurity and concern for safety. I grew up in a large city that had its share of good and bad neighborhoods. As a teen, my parents gave me strict orders to steer clear of the south end of town, where crime was recently a problem. (We were also dealing with race riots). Nevertheless, my supposedly safe neighborhood in the north end of town had its share of robberies. My home was broken into twice to my knowledge. We never had a home security system, and from Marie's experience, I now realize they weren't available, at least to the average citizen. Dad's form of home security was a loaded handgun and our cocker spaniel, Tippy. Thankfully, Dad never had to use the gun.

Does anyone else recall break-ins and concerns about home security? Perhaps it's a concern now. 

So....with a neighborhood growing in crime and too few police to monitor the activity, Marie took matters into hand. In 1966, she designed a closed-circuit television security system to monitor their home. Marie is said to have provided the most information and is considered to be the inventor. Her electronics technician husband (Albert) no doubt helped and has equal credit on the patent (according to patent rules, all persons named are equal).

Below is a detailed illustration and summary of the set-up: A lot of thought when into this invention! 

The patent approved in 1969
 ---a television monitor placed in the bedroom
---a radio-controlled wireless system that fed images to the monitor
---a motorized camera that slid up and down and captured images through four peep holes (it could monitor different heights)
---a two-way microphone for conversation from behind the door
---a built in alarm that allowed alerting a neighbor
---a remote control means of unlocking the door


The 1966 invention was truly the first of its kind and a forerunner of ones used today. The only difference today is in size, which has shrunk considerably. Marie was honored with an award from the National Scientists Committee for her achievement. As for profits, it's not clear whether the Browns made any at all.




Sources:
http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/inventor-marie-van-brittan-brown-born
http://www.black-inventor.com/Marie-Van-Brittan-Brown.asp
http://americacomesalive.com/2015/02/13/marie-van-brittan-brown-home-security-system-inventor/#.VQEUpI6UbYg
http://www.projectblackman.com/GreatBlackInventors.aspx?notablePersonId=279


Copyright 2015 © Sharon Marie Himsl

45 comments:

  1. I had no idea! "Necessity is the mother of invention," they say. We have our security system because I insisted. My husband travels for work a lot and our neighborhood has gotten questionable since it flooded five years ago and the property values tanked.

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    1. Good you have security system then. Sorry about the flood. That's probably been tough. We adapt and do what we can, don't we? Just like Marie did in her situation. Thanks!

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  2. The women you profile are truly heroines thank you Sharon! No doubt many feel more secure now with systems in place, thanks to this great lady: Marie van Brittan Brown.

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    1. I was surprised at how new these home systems really are. I assumed they had them in the 60s. Appreciate the visit, Susan!

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  3. I've always lived in villages where breakins aren't as much of a problem, however, my parents had a security system put in recently and we've had one for a while.
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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    1. Times are changing. I wonder if this more the trend today.

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  4. Thanks for visiting my blog today because I don't know where you are in the AtoZ list. It's possible I would never have stumbled into this amazing and most fascinating theme. I'm off to read about the other inventions.
    ~Repaying the visit from AtoZ

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    1. Oh, I'm glad you found me, Wendy. I'm still learning how to blog hop. Looking forward to more visits :)

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  5. I love it. Marie might be my new hero!

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  6. That's so cool! I never knew about the origins of home security systems. I do remember, many years ago, going to drop off something at a friends apartment and interrupting a robbery in progress. Lucky for me, the robbers left out the back door when they heard me coming in.

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    1. How scary. Robberies frighten me, although I've never had to confront a robber.

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  7. Loved this one, such as important invention - and the fact that it was by a woman is a huge bonus :) xx

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    1. Hi, Suzanne. It's interesting too the technology for this system hasn't changed all that much either.

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  8. Hi Sharon - I've been burgled .. but didn't have an alarm or anything .. and I was lucky - just things stolen. Fortunately down here we seem to be ok - there are robberies around .. but I know if you have a property where the need is - it's better to have a system installed.

    Incredibly complicated .. yet now how relatively simple based on their (her) initial design .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Good for you, Hilary. We all have to look at our situation and decide I guess. Hope you're enjoying the A-Z. It's already to an exhausting month for me.

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  9. I didn't realise until this week that women were so inventive.
    You have shown us how clever we are after all........not just for bringing babies into the world.
    Yvonne.

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  10. Hi,
    I have never heard of this woman, and I am so thankful that you presented her. I have a blog named Walk On which features a column women who have walked on before us and Marie Van Brittan Brown sure belongs in that category of outstanding women pioneers.

    Thank you so much and thank you for visiting my blog.

    Shalom,
    Patricia at Everything Must Change

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    1. Truly outstanding, yes. Please add her name to your list, Pat, at your other blog. All the best!

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  11. I did not know a woman invented the home security system. That is awesome!

    Thank you for visiting my blog! I am now following yours. :)

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    1. Sad it takes so long for women especially to get the credit they deserve, but here we are doing just that, which is pretty awesome. Thank you so much for the follow.

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  12. Very cool. Good for Marie Vann Brittan Brown! I'm so impressed that she did this in 1966.It's so sad, though, that these systems are needed, isn't it?

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    1. Yes, it certainly is. Nice to meet you Kern and thanks for stopping by.

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  13. Well, I'll just tell you I'm saving to get a new armed front door ;-)
    I can certainly related to this woman, and I andmire her initiative.

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    1. Oh, I hope you do, Sarah. We have sturdy locks on our doors and don't worry that much. Stay safe!

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  14. What an interesting revelation. She should have gotten more attention. Brilliant invention, that's for certain. Thanks, Sharon!

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    1. She may have, but I could not find any more information. One resource said it's not known if the Browns made a profit. All the best!

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  15. Yay for this invention :) I am very nervous about security...

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Epics from A to Z
    MopDog - 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

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    1. Sorry to hear that, Zalka. Do stay safe and consider getting a dog and some sturdy locks.

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  16. You always come up with such fascinating well-researched A to Z topics, Sharon. I never fail to come away feeling like I have learned something worthwhile. Great post.

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    1. Hi. Surprised to see you....thought you were not doing the A-Z, and saw you hadn't posted for a long time. Glad you enjoyed hearing Marie's story.

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  17. Another lady who should be taught in all schools and she is African American and this was developed during all the race riots and the equal rights fights> She is an amazing lady. What a shame they don't teach this in schools

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    1. I personally think (in America at least) we focus too much on the negative and fail to see the positive. Thanks, Birgit!

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  18. I'm sure many who have a home security system take it for granted. She was one resourceful lady.

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    1. We will never think of this in the same way again, will we? Appreciate the stop, Nick.

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  19. She was indeed resourceful. And what a great theme for A-Z! I had no idea that the home security system was invented by a woman!

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  20. Good for her for being proactive and doing what she could to keep herself and her things safe! Oh how scary with your home having been broken into back then. Thankful that has not happened to us (though vehicles have been broken into). It is sad we live in a society that we have to protect our houses/possessions like this, but I guess that's just the way the world is.

    betty

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    1. Thinking back on the old 1920s house I grew up in, I remember the window screens easily popped out. It would have been easy to break into. Thanks for visiting, Betty. Hope you're enjoying the a-z!

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  21. This is fascinating! I never would have guessed a woman invented these systems. You just don't hear about woman inventors so your theme is so interesting and inspiring as well.

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    1. I'll never look at home security again without thinking of Marie. Thanks, Julie. All the best!

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    ReplyDelete

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