Marie Van Brittan Brown worked as a nurse and later became a famous inventor. However, she became an iconic figure, not because of her profession as a nurse, but because she invented the audio-video alarm system.
She invented this together with Albert Brown, her husband. This innovation was Marie’s solution to her mounting fear of their neighborhood. At the time, it had a remarkably high crime rate, and the police response to emergency calls was incredibly slow.
Marie’s home security system laid the foundation for other versions of various security systems that the world uses today in homes, businesses, and some private and public places.
Five Facts About Marie Van Brittan Brown
Marie was 43 years old when she invented her version of the home security system in 1966.
She and her husband were granted the patent of their home security system on December 6, 1969.
She received an award from the National Science Committee for the invention of the home security system.
Her daughter, Norma Brown, followed in her footsteps and became a nurse and an inventor who has more than ten inventions.
She and her husband lived in Queens, New York, which they considered very unsafe due to its high crime rate and slow police response.
Marie Van Brittan Brown’s Famous Quote
“A woman alone could set off an alarm immediately by pressing a button, or if the system were installed in a doctor’s office, it might prevent holdups by drug addicts.”
Marie Van Brittan Brown Biography
Marie’s Family Background
Marie was born to African-American parents on October 30, 1922, in Queens, New York. She was the only child of the couple, and nothing much is known to Marie’s parents.
However, her father was from Massachusetts, while her mother came from Pennsylvania. It’s still unknown, but Marie’s parents and grandmother all had the nickname “Dee Dee.”
Marie’s Inspiration for Her Invention
The African-American inventor was married to Albert Brown, an electronics technician. Together, they had two children Norma and Albert Jr.
Marie, who was then working as a nurse, would often come home very late at night due to her work schedule, and her husband Albert wasn’t always at home.
Their family lived in 151-158 & 135th Avenue in Jamaica, Queens, New York. It was considered unsafe because of the high crime rate and slow response from the police in emergencies.
These circumstances inspired Marie to create her own personal security system to protect herself and her family from the potential dangers in their neighborhood.
Marie’s Home Security System and Her Challenges
As a result of her experiences, Marie Brown devised a closed-circuit security system attached to the door. It could scan and interview visitors via camera and admit the visitors inside or sound the alarm to alert the police immediately.
To make the security system, Marie placed three peepholes on the front door at different height levels so people with varying heights can still be seen, while a slide over camera was placed on the other side of the door that assesses the area outside.
The images captured by the camera were then projected to a monitor screen, which can be placed anywhere in the house; a radio-controlled wireless system would facilitate this transfer.
Marie’s invention also included a two-way microphone so that the homeowner could also talk to the person outside. Additionally, remote control was also available to allow her to lock or unlock the door without going near the door.
When Marie and her husband received the patent for their invention in 1969, they had hoped that homebuilders would adopt their invention. However, the cost of implementing their home security system was so high that they found it challenging to sell it to them.
Therefore, in the hopes of attracting prospective buyers and sparking interest, the couple decided to build it in their own home, but nothing much happened. As a result, the media coverage slowly dropped, and her vision of commercializing it gradually declined as well.
Marie’s Recognition and Death
On February 2, 1999, Marie died at the age of 76 at their Queens home. Unfortunately, she did not live long to see the future developments of her invention, as it was adopted, recreated, and improved by other innovators later on.
Her home security system that utilized televisions for surveillance was the foundation of every security system now available on the market. Although Brown’s security system was initially intended for home use, it has become an everyday necessity for almost all business establishments.
The New York Times and the National Science Committee later recognized the African-American inventor for her security system, and her recognition officially sealed her place in the elite group of African-American inventors and scientists.
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