A Short History of Burglar Alarms

May 3, 2020 By iwano@_84 Off

When someone mentions burglar alarms it’s not unreasonable to think of high tech devices developed in the silicon age. The truth is the concept of an alarm system is one that was invented long before that. For thousands of years man has used animals, more notably the dog, to guard and alert him of any one trying to tamper or steel his valuables. In the Middle Ages large gongs were used to warn a population of impending doom or large bonfires lit to warn of imminent invasion.

As important as these developments were, it was not until 1852 that the first electro-mechanical alarm system was invented. Edwin Holmes was an American Inventor from Boston Massachusetts; the alarm he devised was simplistic but effective. A solenoid struck a gong when a trip wire was disturbed. Although his alarm system is nothing compared to today’s offerings it was positively received in its day.

These early alarm systems continued to make use of simple electrical circuits and relays. A typical installation would see wire wound along windowsills and around doorframes coupled with conductive lead foil and mechanical or magnetic switches laced with thin wire.

The security conscious had to wait until the next century for further alarm system advances, which heralded the advent of the transistor and the integrated circuit. This technology allowed smaller units integrated with microwave and ultrasonic motion sensors along with features such as entrance and exit delays to be introduced.

With the level of technical sophistication increasing, so did the applications. Now it was possible to use alarms to monitor industrial processes such as steel production or to monitor natural events such as volcanoes and earthquakes.

Today, alarm systems have advanced even further. The rapid and expanded use of the Internet has revolutionised alarm systems immensely, as alarm systems have now become intelligent. It is now possible for them to sort problems out themselves, by identifying triggers and minimising false alarms. They even have the ability to measure weight, size and other environmental factors. Some also have self-diagnostic capabilities and can detect internal circuitry problems, allowing them to functioning correctly.

As far as the future of alarm system development goes there is one thing you can be sure of and that’s that it will continue to evolve. The pressure to continue development is driven by the professional burglar who continues the cat and mouse game of coming up with new ways to beat the latest alarm technology.