Let’s talk about neighborhoods. Now, there are plenty different types of neighborhoods. We have some that are big, some that are small, some that don’t have an official neighborhood name but are better communities than the gated communities, we have so many! One of the most important things in a neighborhood is safety. No matter how safe you think your neighborhood is, most houses have some type of security system. These security systems help us know when someone is trying to break in, when someone is at our doorstep, or even have facial recognition. Do you know how security systems got started, though? The reason was for safety, and the innovation was by none other than a Black woman. Let’s talk about Marie Van Brittan Brown.

Born October 22nd, 1922, in Queens, New York, not much is known about her early life, but she was a nurse and had two children. One of which became an inventor. Living in Queens at this time, her husband was an electronics technician by the name of Albert Brown. Their work hours weren’t the standard hours that you might be thinking of, and the crime rates were high in Queens. When the police were called, they took their sweet time and they were still of little help. Brittan Brown decided to take her safety into her own hands, In comes the security system.

Her security system was the blueprint for the features we have in modern security systems. For example, her system had peepholes, a camera, monitors, and a two-way microphone. This was the foundation for the two-way communication and surveillance features we have today. Lastly, there was an alarm button that could be pressed to contact the police. Three peepholes were on the front door for different height levels. Top was for tall, bottom was for kids, and middle was for average. On the other side of the door there was a camera attached that had the ability to slide up and down and allow the person to see through each peephole. The camera would pick images up that were transported to the monitor wirelessly, and that monitor could be anywhere in the house so you could see who was at the door. (Rebecca Hill, 2016).

Remember me talking about that two-way communication system? Well, Brown made a component that allowed her to speak to the person outside. With the push of a button, Brown could notify the authorities if she thought the person was an intruder. If not, then she could unlock the door with a remote. Can we just talk about how innovative this is? I mean, the intricacies of this is so amazing, especially for the time period! On December 2nd, 1969, the application for the “Home Security System Utilizing Television Surveillance” patent was approved after 3 years. This security system gained Brown an award from the National Scientists Committee, as well as an interview with The New York Times 4 days after the patent was approved.

This invention was truly a blueprint for alarm triggers, monitoring systems, instant messages to authority and so much more. This invention started ADT and Ring, and is still used today in small businesses, apartments, small offices, and even in single-family homes. The Browns’ patent is still referenced by other inventors.

The Black mind is so beautiful. We have something we feel as a problem, and we get right to work trying to fix our problem. Marie Van Brittan Brown, not just a Black person, but a Black woman, saw a problem and decided to invent something to make it better. She made something so beautifully intricate that laid the entire foundation for what we use to keep us safe today. And we still use it! That’s how good it is, and that’s how great Marie Van Brittan Brown is. Thank you, Marie Van Brittan Brown for your innovation, you will not be forgotten. MT Out!


Hill, R. (2016, April 11) Marie Van Brittan Brown (1922-1999). Retrieved from https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/brown-marie-van-brittan-1922-1999/

Photo Creds: Wikimedia