Black History Month Profile: Marie Van Brittan Brown

Marie Van Britten Brown

Marie Van Britten Brown

There are countless black engineers that we never speak about nor know much about how they contributed to our lives and how we still use their inventions to this day.

One of these engineers goes by the name of Marie Van Brittan Brown.

Brown and her husband, Albert, an electrical technician, created a device that you could see who was at your door without having to open it. The device had four peepholes through it, and in each of them was a video camera on the inside of it could see all visitors as it was toggled up and down. Although a monitor connected the device to a monitor inside the house, it also included a microphone on the outside of the door and a speaker on the inside that allowed the owner to interrogate whoever had come to their door.

Brown created the invention because serious crimes had risen nearly 32 percent in Queens from 1960 to 1965. After noticing the rise in crime, Brown felt unsafe while in her home, the very place where you should feel the safest.

Marie and Albert filed for a patent in 1966, saying that Marie was the lead inventor. It was approved in 1969, three years later. However, the device had never seen manufacturers because installations would cost too much.

Although the device wouldn’t go through the production, Marie and her husband gained immense recognition from the tech world. The first residential CCTV was introduced in 2005, 6 years too late for Marie to see as she had passed away in 1999 in Queen at the age of 76.

Now when you hear a knock at the door, and you can check who it is from you’re the comfort of your seat, thank Marie Van Brittan Brown for that.