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The History of Alarm Systems

As long as people have been around, they’ve had the desire to protect their life and their property. The home security market has embraced technology like no other area has, but the home alarm system is certainly not a new concept.

Centuries ago, animals such as dogs, livestock, or even geese were used to alert a person to the presence of intruders. These animals would be kept near the entrance to a dwelling, with the notion that they’d make noise if a person came near.

In the mid-1700s, an English inventor designed a series of chimes and bells that were connected to a lock. When the door was opened, the chimes sounded. This system stayed in place for over 100 years, and served as a simple way of notifying a homeowner that a door had been opened. The 1850s saw the first electrical home alarm system, one that primarily used magnets. An electrical wire was run through the door, and if the magnet was moved (the door opened), a circuit completed. Electricity would run through a bell and cause vibrations, creating an unmistakable noise.

Just a few years later, a similar system would be developed. This one used springs to complete the circuit, but it was attached to every door and window in a home. Each spring could even activate a certain number of rings on the bell, so a homeowner would know precisely what had been opened.

But, the home alarm system as we know it didn’t come on the scene until the early 1900s, when telephone lines were in use. It was at this time that home alarms moved beyond simply alerting the homeowner, to alerting law enforcement and attempting to stop the crime in progress. By this point, cities had dedicated phone lines for fire and police departments. If an alarm was tripped, a phone call was automatically placed to the police. The police couldn’t hear anything from the line, but they could see which phone line had placed the call and respond to the appropriate address. This was the predecessor to the modern central monitoring station you see today.

Home alarms didn’t change much from the early 1900s to the 1970s, which saw the introduction of the motion sensor. Previously, if an intruder successfully breached a home, he had free rein inside. But now, there was an entirely new level of protection.

Again, home security would stay pretty much the same for the next 40 years, until video monitoring arrived on the scene. In the early 2010s, smart home automation was beginning to take off, and the security market was one of the first to embrace the technology. Now, homeowners can receive alerts the second someone approaches their home, and can link to a live video of what’s happening inside.

Home alarm systems have seen dramatic increases in technology, but at their core, they’re still based on principles introduced by the Bell company over a century ago.

If you’ve been considering a home security system, technology today allows these systems to offer a level of protection that’s never been seen before, and at a price that’s affordable for any budget.