Marie Van Brittan Brown was born on October 30th, 1922, to African American parents in Jamaica, Queens, New York. She was an the only child of her parents: she had no siblings, she rose to become a nurse, a feat which was very unrealistic in then Queen for black people. She married Albert Brown an electronic technician. As a nurse, Marie spent long hours during her shift at the hospital and her husband was mostly away from the house.
The prevalent crime rate in Queens, prolonged police response to emergencies in the neighbourhood coupled with her being alone in the house most nights caused Marie to look for a way to enhance personal security in her home. With this motive, Brown came out with a plan to commence her invention.
Marie set out to roll out her plan by drilling three peepholes in the door meant for tall people, average height and short people according to their positions. A camera was placed behind the door with could slide through the three peepholes allowing a person to have an outside view. The images the camera picked could be streamed on any television in the house through a radio-controlled wireless system.
The invention came along with a two-way microphone voice component system which allowed communication between her family and a person outside. Marie also created a system which would allow the opening and closing of the door by remote control. Finally, there was a button which when pressed would alert the police and emergency responders instantly.
On August 1st, 1966, Marie and her husband, Albert, submitted this invention for a patent under the title “Home Security System Utilizing Television Surveillance”. The invention would be first of its kind. On December 2nd, 1969, which was three years later, the government approved the invention as she was granted the patent with her husband’s name was beneath hers. Four days later on December 6th, 1969, the famed New York Times granted her an interview and ran an article on her invention springing her to fame.
Fifty-five years after her invention, it has been cited in about thirty-two invention. Marie Brown’s invention has been recognized as the foundation of security surveillance system that adopt remote control door, video monitoring, alarm triggering buttons, two-way voice communication and instant messages to security services and first responders.
Much is not known about Marie Van Brittan Brown’s life as media coverage about her invention ceased after her successful patent. However her great contribution to security cannot be ignored. She died on February 2nd, 1999.