The Origin Story Of The Security Alarm

Have you ever wondered when the first security alarm was invented?  Well, wonder no more as we explore the origin story of the Security Alarm.

The first ever security alarm, that resembled something we can identify with today, came in 1857 along with the first security business – which was owned and operated by Edwin Holmes, the man credited as being the father of the alarm.

However, Holmes was merely the adopted father of the security alarm as the technology for the ingenious invention was produced and patented by Augustus Russell Pope four years prior. Holmes had simply bought the rights to the technology.

Popes’ original security alarm was a battery operated electromagnet device that was simple to operate and effective to use. The system sprung to life when open doors or windows, which operated on independent units by a parallel circuit, broke the completed electrical circuit and caused a sudden flow of current. This sudden surge caused a magnet to vibrate and sent electromagnetic vibrations to be transmitted to a hammer above the door, which struck a brass bell repeatedly – alerting those close by of the disturbance.

The hidden beauty to this simple design was that the loud ringing noise couldn’t be stopped by simply completing the circuit again by closing the opened window or door. The noise was only shut off by flicking a hidden spring switch, which makes it difficult for would-be intruders, who weren’t in the know about the switch, to bypass the system and commence with the offense.

In its day, this system was very popular thanks to the product marketing done by Holmes – who was not the genius that Pope was. Instead, Holmes was ahead of his time when it came to advertising and marketing. During the early stages, there was widespread fear of electricity, and Holmes used this fear to propel the product and counteracted the fear by showing the benefits of electricity. Most notably, Holmes published a list of supposed customers in the New York Times, who had all declared their trust in the system to raise some hype around the security alarm. Often advertised with a picture of his ‘burglar alarm telegraph’, Holmes’ marketing strategy worked and people soon became fascinated by the invention and Popes invention soon became Holmes’ brand.


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