Marie Van Brittan Brown was an African American woman who, in 1969, secured the patent for the precursor to the modern home security system. She was born in Queens, New York, on Oct. 30, 1922. She married Albert Brown and worked alongside him in developing the prototype for CCTV.
Driven by slow police response to criminal activity in their area and the desire to feel safe, Marie and her husband completed the first incarnation of Brown's CCTV system in 1966. It was basically a sliding camera that could stop at any one of four points to record images that were then projected onto a monitor. It also unlocked doors via remote control. In spite of the fact that the Browns' invention has become a staple in high-profile buildings as well as private homes all over the world, they kept a low profile and little is known of them. This is due in large part to the fact that racial tensions were still high in the United States in the 1960s, and African Americans accomplishments in the world of science were largely downplayed in favor of those of Caucasians. The only media coverage Marie ever received was in a New York Times article in 1969. She died in February 1999.