The History of Home Automation

Where smart homes started


OCTOBER 6, 2021

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The smart house — a fully automated home with both a personality and an incredible capacity for completing domestic tasks — has been a trope in science fiction for more than half a century. Authors like Ray Bradbury offered fantastic fictional accounts of homes that could clean themselves and cook for their occupants all while acting as a high-tech security guard.

Though the sophisticated artificial intelligence and self-cleaning abilities of the average home may only exist in the realm of fiction, automated security has become very real – and automation of some basic maintenance tasks has also come as a bonus. Today, alarms can be armed, cameras can be monitored, and electronic devices can be controlled right from your phone. How did we get here? 

It all started with Nikola Tesla’s invention of the original remote control in 1898. He used radio signals to remotely pilot a toy boat. He was ridiculed for such extravagant inventions, and they never made much of a commercial impact, but Tesla’s work laid the foundations for the powerful systems of the future.

Over the following years, the remote control was tested in some military applications as an accompaniment for higher-end electronics, but its resounding impact on American households truly began in the 1950s with the remote-controlled television.

As televisions filled American homes, computers filled laboratories. The first computer chips and digital computers were colossal machines built at universities in the 1940s and 1950s. Initially, the processing power of digital computing was only available to the government and the very rich, but by the late 1970s and early 1980s, affordable, personal computers became accessible. The speed of digital computers was the foundation for home automation.

The final step to achieving true remote home automation came in the form of wireless networks. Starting with X-10 protocol in the 1970s and progressing all the way to the Wi-Fi we have today, the increasing speed and processing capacity of new wireless network protocols allowed digital security systems to improve in terms of power and ease of use. The first wireless security systems were very expensive and consequently didn’t catch on with potential buyers. Components got cheaper, which allowed the extremely tech savvy to make their homes smarter and safer, but still wasn’t common.

Today, the speed of wireless networks and intelligence of smart phones gives everyone the chance to acquire a comprehensive home automation system. From saving energy via smart lights, to remotely operating a security system, home automation allows you to maintain your property regardless of where you are.

Brinks Home™ systems feature a full suite of smart home services and can be installed in minutes. With very little effort, you could be controlling your own smart house from the touch screen of your phone or tablet. Give us a call for a free quote today.

Linley Stringer is a copywriter with Brinks Home. She is passionate about telling stories that keep consumers informed and protected.

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