Alarm History 101

Do you remember sitting in that high school history class just before the February Presidents holiday and being surprised when the teacher walked in wearing the stove top hat and dark Lincoln beard? Today’s lesson won’t be quite as colorful but definitely worth the read…

The caveman slid a rock in front of the entrance of their nightly family cave to protect his brood. Fast forward a couple thousand years to the early days of the United States, our options were basically limited to relying on our neighbors and defending our homes with firearms if we happened to be there when criminals tried to break in. As one might expect, both of these methods had limited success and often led to loss of property, or worse, harm to the families themselves. Fortunately, thanks to electricity and innovations in security technology, there are far better options available to us today.

Augustus Russell Pope invents the first proximity alarm

While it might come as a surprise, burglar alarms have been around for over 150 years. In fact, the second half of the 19th century was a period of great innovation in the security industry. The first home alarm system was patented in 1853 by a Bostonian inventor named Augustus Russell Pope.

Augustus created a proximity sensor for doors and windows by connecting them to a parallel circuit, a simple device which rang a bell. Much like alarm systems today, Pope’s alarm could not be turned off simply by shutting the door or window that tripped it!

Augustus eventually sold his invention to Edwin Holmes, who created the first modern alarm company, the Holmes Electric Protection Company.

Alexander Graham Bell invents the first central monitoring station.

Another innovator of alarm technology was Alexander Graham Bell. Although Alexander is best known for his development of the first working telephone, few know that he used this same technology to create the first version of a central monitoring station.

In May 1877, the world’s first telephone switchboard was created to connect five bank branches together. The 1800s had been a period of deadly bank robberies, and bank managers were desperate to figure out some way to protect their customers’ valuables. The switchboard made bank robbery a far more difficult proposition for a couple of reasons: First , bank staff could immediately notify the other four branches that a robbery was in progress, which meant law enforcement had a chance of arriving in time to apprehend the bank robbers. Second, bank employees could describe the robber’s physical appearance over the phone, which made it easier for law enforcement to find them and post Wanted posters if the robbers managed to get away.

While burglar alarm technology has developed significantly since the 19th century, it is still based on the basic principles innovated by Augustus Pope and Alexander Bell. All major alarm companies, including Mijac Alarm, make use of proximity sensors in the windows and doors as the first line of defense against potential burglars, and alarm systems transmit information to a central monitoring station that can dispatch law enforcement quickly and effectively.

Fortunately, technological advances have made security systems more reliable than a brass bell and a magnet, and way more secure than sliding a big rock in front of your door but we should be mindful of how much we owe to the innovators that have made families around the world safer than ever before.
Be sure to check back for our next installment of Alarm History 101 later this month, when we discuss the history of fire alarm systems!

For more information about Mijac Alarm and how we can protect your loved ones and valuables, visit the main Mijac website by clicking here, or call us at (909)982-7612!

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