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Marie Van Brittan Brown, born on January 7, 1922, in Queens, New York, was an African-American nurse and inventor. In 1966, at the age of 44, she came up with the brilliant idea to create a unique home surveillance device with a closed-circuit television security system.
The invention was inspired by the security risk that her home faced in the neighborhood where she lived. The crime rate was high. Even when the police were contacted for emergencies, the response time was always slow.
Marie and her husband, Albert L. Brown, applied for the patent and invented a system with a motorized camera that could show images on a monitor. That patent was granted and her invention went on to become a technological precursor to how modern-day home security systems would be designed. Brown’s features for her invention were unique during that time period.
The motorized camera at the door could slide up and down to look out of four peepholes and anything the camera captured could be displayed on a monitor. Not only did her invention increase her level of personal security, but it also helped to create a system that would allow her to know who was at her home and contact authorities as quickly as possible.
The invention also included a radio-controlled lock that would allow the front door to be locked and unlocked and an audio-video alarm system that could be used to see and communicate with whoever was at the door.
For her genius invention, which contributed to the future of the home security systems that we have today, Marie Van Brittan Brown was recognized by The New York Times and was given a prestigious award by the National Scientists Committee (NSC). But for the most part, her invention has gone unnoticed and undocumented by the mainstream media.
Sadly, Marie Van Brittan Brown died on February 2, 1999, at the age of 77 years old. Her invention formed a system that is still relevant in today’s society.