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Day 5: Marie Van Brittan Brown created today’s home surveillance system

28 Days of Black History

By Coshandra Dillard

During Black History Month, we tend to focus on “firsts,” civil rights figures and the American slave trade. From Africa to the Americas, there are plenty of milestones and triumphs performed by people of African decent.
You may recall being in awe as a child when learning that some of the precursors to modern technological devices were created or enhanced by black inventors. From the mail box and the traffic light to refrigerated trucks and call waiting, African Americans have been innovative despite obstacles.
Today’s home security system is a convenient addition to homes thanks to a black woman, Marie Van Brittan Brown.
A nurse and inventor from Jamaica, Queens, New York City, Brown sparked the idea for a home surveillance device. She and her husband, Albert Brown, filed for a patent in 1966 for a closed circuit television security system. Their system included a motorized camera to show images on a monitor.
Brown’s system featured a set of four peepholes and camera that could slide up and down to look out each one. The system also included the ability for a person to unlock a door with a remote control.
The Browns said they invented the device because police were slow to respond to emergencies in their neighborhood.
Marie Van Brittan Brown died at 76 years old on Feb. 2, 1999.



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