1930 – 1950
Security cameras date back to WW2 when a German inventor, Walter Bruch, created the first prototype CCTV camera. This primitive camera was utilized to watch V2 rocket launches from inside the safety of a military bunker.
At the time, it was only possible to view these feeds live due to the lack of video recording capabilities. Shortly after its inception, the US army picked up on this technology and started utilizing cameras to monitor atomic bomb testing from a safe distance.
Another version of early security cameras came in the form of portable movies cameras that could fit in one hand, whilst the other hand was used to spin the film with a crank. These cameras were ideal for covert surveillance operations because it was the first time a camera could be used somewhat discreetly.
1950 – 1980
The first instance of video monitoring for high level personnel was introduced when the Thai Royal Family visited England In 1960. The Police were instructed to set up various cameras in Trafalgar Square to assist them with protecting the Royal Family from the large crowds of spectators. In 1965, surveillance cameras started to become more and more commonly used by the Police for public surveillance.
Fast forward to 1969, when Marie Van Brittan, an African American Inventor, created the first home security system. This patented technology consisted of four separate peepholes on a door with a sliding camera that was used to view people at all heights. This camera was hooked up to a monitor for viewing from a safe distance, and utilized a 2-way microphone for communication.
While this technology was impressive for the time, home security camera systems wouldn’t see widespread use until much later. In the same year, the invention of video cassette recorders (VCR) allowed for the recording of security footage. This was a major milestone because until then, security feeds had to be monitored live.
In 1970, security cameras were seen more commonly in commercial locations such as banks and high end retail stores as a theft prevention measure. One issue that remained constant for security cameras was that they were rendered useless in low light situations… until in 1976 when the invention of Charged Coupled Device (CCD) technology lead to the creation of low light cameras.
A CCD was a light sensitive circuit that captured footage by converting photons into electrons. CCD sensors would break down that captured footage into pixels, and then convert the pixels into electrical charges with levels based on the intensity of light in the pixel.
1990 – Early 2000’s
The 90’s was an exciting time for security camera technology with the incorporation of digital multiplexing, allowing feeds from various individual security cameras to be displayed on a single monitor. This opened the floodgates for major business opportunities in the video security realm, especially for the video monitoring industry, by allowing operators to view multiple camera views at once on a single screen.
The usefulness of digital multiplexers was short-lived once the Digital Video Recorder (the replacement for VCR) hit the scene by automatically compiling various videos feeds together, eliminating the need for digital multiplexers. DVR’s also made the organization aspect of video surveillance more efficient by storing all of the footage on SD cards, instead of the vast amount of physical tapes that were stockpiled before.