Marie Van Brittan Brown: A Black Female Inventor
I was a latch-key kid growing up and the one thing I remember my mom saying daily was, “Don’t open this door for nobody”. She was a single mother so not working was not an option. So just like many women who have to make hard sacrifices for their kids, she decided to let me stay home alone for a couple of hours after-school until she made it home from work.
I had a routine. I would go into the house, put my backpack down, and get me something to eat. The best part is that I would go to her room and lay in her bed to watch television. I was living the life until about 6:30 because then I would have to hurry up and clean the house before she got off work at 7.
Marie Van Brittan Brown was also a woman who had to make hard decisions for her family. She and her husband along with their two children lived in Jamaica Queens, New York. Marie worked as a nurse and her husband was an electrician. Their work hours would vary and they were never the same.
Because of the high crime rate, Marie noticed how long it would take the police to arrive in their neighborhood whenever they were called for an emergency. She knew this could result in her family becoming victim to a crime, so she decided to take action.
Marie Brown decided to create a system that would allow her to know who was at her home at all times, with the ability to contact relevant authorities if needed as quickly as possible.
Marie Van Brittan Brown invented the first home security system ( U.S. Patent 3,482, 037) in 1966.
She first started with a camera, monitors, peepholes, and a two-way microphone. An alarm button was added to contact authorities immediately. Brilliantly, she thought to add three peepholes on the door to represent different height levels. Because she attached a camera with the ability to slide up and down, it allowed anyone, regardless of height, to see who was on the other side of the door.
A monitor showing images was created through a wireless system. The monitor could be placed in any part of the house to identify who was at the door. A voice component allowed her to speak to the person outside. If the person was familiar the door could be unlocked with a remote control.
Does this sound familiar to anyone? How many of us have a security system in our homes? Did you know that a black woman invented it? I knew black girls were magic but damn! I see you, Mrs. Brown!
Marie and Albert Brown filed for a patent on August 1, 1966, under the title, “Home Security System Utilizing Television Surveillance.” Their application was approved on December 2, 1969.
Brown died on February 2, 1999.