The History of Home Security Systems


According to the Home Security & Management Company website humans have throughout history attempted to establish alarm systems to protect properties and communities from attack and natural disasters. Crude systems began with the use of drumbeats and horns to warn a community of an oncoming problem. Later systems became more sophisticated using smoke signals and colored rockets to distinguish between different warning alarms.


  • Home security operator DGA Security explains the origins of the home security alarm industry of the 21st Century lie in the late 18th Century and mid 19th Century. The major inventions that led to the beginnings of modern home security alarms are reported by DGA Security to be the invention of the battery in 1799 and the telegraph in 1841. An early fire alarm system was created by Dr. William Channing shortly after the invention of the telegraph, the first security alarm system was developed around the same time by a Unitarian Minister named Augustus Pope.


  • Electrical circuits are used in the operation of home security alarms with very few changes from the systems created in the mid 19th Century through to the development of digital technology in the 1970s. The first circuits used in home security alarms was developed by electrician Moses Farmer who developed a circuit system to ring the bells that sound a security alarm, according to DGA Security. This circuit solved the major problem of the first security alarms of how to ring the bells that sound the alarm. The Guide 4 Home website reports initial home security alarms consisted of an electrical circuit running around a door or window frame that sounded when the door or window was opened. The problem with these early alarms was that when an intruder entered the home and closed the door or window the alarm would stop ringing.

Local Alarms

  • Many of the early home security alarms are described by the Guide 4 Home website as simple local alarms, which rang an alarm that would be responded to by a person within earshot. The problems faced by these alarms included the need for a person to be nearby and call the emergency services and the fact that false alarms meant the general public began to ignore these alarms because of the high number of false alarms.


  • The idea of a monitoring center used to track fire and burglar alarms was introduced in 1871 by E.A. Calahan, according to the Home Security Management Company. The system of monitoring alarms in a central office was designed to allow a faster response to alarms than a local alarm and is still used at the beginning of the 21st Century. The cost of home security alarms was dramatically reduced by the development of a system allowing more than one alarm to be monitored over one signal allowing multiple subscriptions to be monitored for a fraction of the cost, according to DGA Security.


  • According to DGA Security the development of home security alarm systems remained unchanged until the mid 20th Century when digital technology allowed the home security system to be improved. These improvements are reported by the Guide 4 Home to be important as anti-burglary alarms had become easy to bypass or immobilize by burglars.

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