The history of home security systems dates back as far as the mid 1800s. On June 21, 1853, Augustus R. Pope of Somerville, MA was granted a patent titled “Improvement in Electro-magnetic Alarms”.
Edwin Holmes, who is considered to have led the way in the history of home security systems, bought Pope’s patent. Holmes is considered to be the first developer and burglar alarm inventor.
Edwin Holmes was originally from New England, where he experienced little success with his Electro-magnetic Alarms. Discouraged but not defeated, he moved his business operation to New York City.
In New York, residential burglaries and break-ins were on the rise. More crimes were committed as compared to New England, and it was fertile ground for his alarm system business.
Initially, he focused on New York’s wealthy homeowners. They were the people who could afford a home security system. He later expanded his focus to include a bigger market.
Holmes’ alarm system was very simple in design. Doors and windows were fitted with magnetic contacts and electrical wires that connected to a large bell. The opening of a door or a window would complete a circuit would that make the bell ring, thus sounding an alarm.
Compare that to today’s wireless motion detectors, glass break sensors, security cameras, and video surveillance equipment. Alarm systems and home security systems in general have come a long way.
Holmes’ burglar alarm business flourished in New York. He went on to build better and more sophisticated home security systems. He is also credited as being one of the first to implement central station monitoring. The transmission of alarm signals to a central location.
Seeing that a new security market was emerging in the commercial field, Holmes also developed security systems for businesses. Some of his clients included Lord and Taylor, and Tiffany.
He even developed a commercial storage safe for valuables that had a direct wire-connection to the local police department. The safe would trigger a silent alarm in the event of tampering or a break-in, notifying the authorities.
Thomas Watson was the person Alexander Graham Bell was calling when he spoke those first famous words over the telephone "Mr Watson—Come here—I want to see you".
The history of home security systems clearly shows us that Edwin Holmes was the initial major driving force behind the development, research and marketing of alarm systems and the home security business as a whole.
Prior to Holmes’ entrepreneurial efforts, there were no burglar alarm systems to speak of in the US or in Canada.