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Who Invented Closed Circuit Television?

Closed-circuit television, better known as CCTV, is the backbone of modern surveillance and security systems. They allow a secure, safe way to view footage of your home, and thanks to modern IoT-based wireless cameras, can be accessed simply via a mobile phone.

Whilst the first CCTV-based home security system was invented by Marie Van Brittan Brown in 1966, the birth of CCTV technology goes back nearly 40 years earlier to Soviet Russia.

The inventor of the CCTV system is believed to be Léon Theremin, who also invented the eponymous musical instrument. He created a manually operated camera that scanned and transmitted to a wireless receiver, which was far ahead of its time.

It only had a resolution of 100 lines, but after a demonstration to Communist Party leader Joseph Stalin, it was installed in the courtyard of the Kremlin.

As far as commercial CCTV systems, the very first one to be commercialised was Vericon in 1949. Unlike Theremin’s invention, it required wires to set up, but because of this did not need a government permit to own.

Oddly enough, one of the first main uses for CCTV was to show live events to select arenas and areas, like how pay-per-view television would eventually run. Events from boxing, professional wrestling, motorsport and even the daredevil stunts of Evel Kineval were shown on CCTV.

Boxing loved closed-circuit to the point that it lasted from Joe Louis vs Joe Walcott in 1948, nearly 50 years until the fight between Julio César Chávez and Oscar De La Hoya in 1996.

It would take until 1968 for Olean, New York to install CCTV cameras on its main street as a security system.

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