History of Home Security


Home security has come a long way since the days when cavemen used rocks, sticks, stones, branches and whatever else they could find to keep intruders and predators away from their humble abodes. Modern security solutions include state-of-the-art technology that allows homeowners to monitor their property and control the multiple system features and functions with their mobile device — even if they are many miles away. In this post, we’ll trace the evolution of home security over the centuries.

Security Then and Now

The origins of the modern home security system date back to the mid-19th century and the development of the electromagnetic alarm. Patented by a Bostonian named Augustus Russell Pope, this rudimentary system consisted of electromagnetic sensors located in exterior doors and windows that triggered an audible alarm whenever a trespasser attempted to gain access to the home.

An important development in home security history followed in 1871 with the formation of American District Telegraph Corporation (ADT) in New York City. ADT created the first security system that featured central monitoring to alert police officers and firefighters of an emergency, which significantly reduced the response time to a home invasion or fire.   

Focus on Home Security in the Post-World War I Era

An increase in property crime following World War I led to a demand for home security solutions that offered a human touch. While many homeowners still used upgraded versions of the electromagnetic alarm to protect their homes, others chose to rely on the services of “door shakers.” These individuals would visit subscribers’ homes during the night to shake the doors to ensure they were locked.

The Evolution of Home Security Continues After World War II

Rapid advancements in home security technology continued during the second half of the 20th century. In 1962, Canadian researchers published a comprehensive study that detailed the ability of heat and smoke detectors to provide an early warning of a fire — and save lives. This eventually resulted in the development and implementation of policies and standards for the use of residential smoke detectors and subsequently led to a dramatic decrease in fire- and smoke-related deaths.

The 1970s saw the introduction of the first video surveillance cameras for home security use. These cameras moved up and down a motorized track to provide images that were fed to a stationary television monitor. Many of these systems also included built-in security features such as intercoms and door lock switches.

The Development Home Automation and Wireless Technology

Home automation became the wave of the future in home security during the 1980s and continues to this day. Homeowners can now lock and unlock doors and windows, operate appliances and program thermostats with an app on their smartphone or tablet. The Internet Age has also fostered the growth of wireless technology that provides greater freedom and flexibility for designing a customized security system that meets their needs.

The continuing evolution of home security over the years has had an impact. According to the Bureau of Justice, residential burglaries decreased by 56 percent between 1994 and 2011, in large part due to the development of more effective security systems. And that’s enough to help any homeowner sleep better at night.

Learn More About Home Automation

Updated by Titan Alarm on November 5, 2018.