The Evolution of Closed-Circuit Television

Virtually every industry uses video surveillance systems to monitor activity on their premises, whether to stop employee theft, manage liability, or to ward off criminals. Closed-circuit television systems are used to monitor employees in a variety of businesses, tenants in common areas of apartment buildings, customer activity in retail settings, as well as a variety of other areas.

Closed-circuit television, or CCTV, is often taken for granted as it’s become so widely used to maintain a secure space and improve productivity. Not only that, but CCTV cameras have been shown to reliably reduce business thefts by up to 80%.

The video security camera systems that we use today have obviously evolved from their first installations.

The first documented CCTVs were developed in Germany in the early 1940s to view the launch of V-2 rockets. These early surveillance systems could only be used to view live footage, however, and were not available to record.

Marie Van Brittan Brown developed the idea for the first home security system in 1966, which was subsequently patented in 1969. The system allowed a user to use their home television set to view people outside their home.

The first public service CCTV systems in the United States were installed in 1968, in Olean, NY, to monitor crime activity on the local Main Street. This set the precedent for many future installations on other city streets throughout the country.

Reel-to-reel filming allowed CCTV footage to be recorded, but the tapes were hard to change and resulted in a very flawed system. VCR technology was released in the 1970s, improving recorded security footage.

Video surveillance like that in Orlean became more common in the 1980s and was used by police departments to deter criminal activity. By the mid-1990s, police departments had extended their surveillance to housing projects, schools, and public parks.

Multiplexing was developed in the 1990s, allowing people to record multiple places at once and reference the footage in one place. CCTV footage could be compiled from multiple cameras and displayed on one monitor.

Today, in the latest evolution in the history of CCTV cameras, security footage has now gone digital. Multiplexes are often installed on DVR devices, which are more user-friendly than VCRs. But development hasn’t stopped there.

Network video recorders are now the primary method of video surveillance, allowing the viewer to access security footage remotely or stream it to a cloud-hosted storage system.

What does the future hold for closed-circuit television? That’s tough to say. With the increase in smartphone technology, live streaming and recording is available on many platforms. Whatever may happen to CCTV, it’s safe to say that improvements will continue to be made.