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Marie Van Brittan Brown envisioned what today’s home security would look like decades ago.

Living in a high crime area of Queens NY in the 1960s, she decided to invent a system that could provide safety when danger is on the other side of the door.

According to History, “she spent many nights at home alone in Queens, New York while her husband was away, and felt unsafe with high rates of crime in her neighborhood. On top of that, police were unreliable and unresponsive.”

Home Security brought to you by Black Excellence

Brown’s security system was the basis for the two-way communication and surveillance features of modern security. Originally, she had peepholes, a camera, two monitors, and a two-way microphone. The final element had an alarm button that could be pressed to contact the police immediately.

At different heights, three peepholes were placed on the front door. The top one was for tall persons, the bottom for children, and the middle peephole was for average heights.

A camera could slide up and down to allow the user to see into each peephole on the opposite side of the door.

There was also a voice component to enable Brown to speak to the person outside. With the push of a button, the police would be notified that the person was an intruder. Using a remote control, a person could unlock the door if they were an expected visitor.

She thought of all this in the sixties!

Black invention helps all

Working as a nurse and her husband, Albert Brown, an electronics technician, they filed for a patent on August 1, 1966, under the title, “Home Security System Utilizing Television Surveillance.”

In 1969, their application was approved and as recently as 2013, her invention has been cited in 32 patent applications.

Black creativity has moved the world forward throughout time and because of Brown, we can sleep peacefully at night.

While undoubtedly useful, no-knock legislation would’ve also helped Breonna Taylor and most recently, Amir Locke to enjoy their night’s sleep.

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...

3 replies on “Before Ring, a Black Woman invented the first Home Security System”

  1. Hi! This is a cool article, but I believe that photo is actually of Bessie Blount Griffin, the inventor of device made to help amputees feed themselves.

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