Marie Van Brittan: The black woman who invented modern security systems – cctv

Marie Van Brittan: The black woman who invented modern security systems – cctv

Who was Marie Van Brittan?
Marie Van Brittan Brown was an African American inventor. She created the first home security system with the help of her husband Albert Brown.

The patent for her invention was registered with the name of “Home Security System Utilizing Television Surveillance “ in 1966 and was accepted in 1969.

The security system created by Marie is the forerunner of modern security systems. Marie was a nurse by profession and her husband Albert was an electronic technician.

Her invention is the front-runner of modern security systems and is used in offices, apartments, hotels, and houses.

Brown was a highly determined and motivated lady. A quote that describes her perfectly would be one from American playwright Wendy Wasserstein.

“Don’t live down to expectations. Go out there and do something remarkable”
— Wendy Wasserstein

How the security systems was created

System invented by Marie Van Brittan Brown and her electrician husband Albert

Since they both worked odd hours, they were very concerned about the security of their home. The neighbourhood was known for its high crime and theft rates, and the police were notoriously slow in responding to calls. At times, Marie was all alone in their home.

Consequently, she consistently felt unsafe and vulnerable. She was mainly concerned about answering the door because she never knew who would be standing on the other side.

Instead of giving into the fear, she decided to take matters into her own hands and started working with her husband on developing the home security system to ensure her personal safety.

How it worked

The security system they created was comprised of four major elements including, four peepholes, a camera, a monitor, a two-way microphone and an alarm button that could be pressed in an emergency to alert the police and neighbors.

These four peepholes were used to capture images of individuals of different heights. Images from the different peepholes were fed into the monitor placed in Brown’s bedroom through a radio-controlled wireless system. A two-way microphone enabled Browns to communicate with individuals standing outside.

If the person outside was a burglar or a trespasser, the alarm button could be pressed to alert the nearby watchman, police or an immediate neighbor. If the person outside was a friend or an expected visitor, the door could be opened through a remote control device.

Marie and Albert collectively applied for a patent in 1966, under the name of “Home Security System Utilizing Television Surveillance”. Their application was accepted in 1969, and Marie later received an award from the National Scientist Committee for her invention.

This security system was the basis of future security systems that built off of her initial features such as video monitoring, remote-controlled door locks, push-button alarm triggers, instant messaging to security providers and police, as well as two-way voice communication.

Sadly, Marie Van Brittan Brown died on February 2, 1999 at the age of 77-years old.