The History of Home Automation

Learn the history of home automation!

If you think home automation is a new invention, you’re only partly right. The History of Home Automation actually goes back further than you might think. Science fiction has essentially fixated on smart home technology since its beginnings in popular culture. Remember Rosie from The Jetsons? But it’s not just the idea of futuristic home gadgets.

A Brief Glimpse into the History of Home Automation

For centuries, the world’s greatest minds and most innovative inventors have been working toward technology that can almost think for itself, while making home life much more efficient in the process. Here are a few of our favorite highlights from over the last 125 years or so that mark the progress of SmartHome solutions and innovations we see today.

1898 – Nikola Tesla, “The Man who invented the 20th Century”

Less than a decade after the U.S. declared independence from England, Nikola Tesla invented the first remote control to remotely control a boat. Beyond that, the Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist made dozens of breakthroughs in the production, transmission and application of electric power. He invented the first alternating current (AC) motor and developed AC generation and transmission technology, without which the technology that powers SmartHomes would not be possible.

Innovations in the Early 1900s

Fast-forward a few centuries, and the Industrial Revolution has paved the way for the invention of the first home appliances. Granted, they weren’t necessarily smart in the way we think of today, but they were absolute game-changers for early 20th century folks. At least for the ones who could afford them. 1901 saw the introduction of the first vacuum cleaner, and over the next few decades, the world’s minds rolled out the washing machine, clothes dryer, clothes iron, home refrigerator, electric dishwasher, garbage disposal, and many other home appliances that today we take for granted.

The 1930s and the Idea of the Automated Home

By the 1930s, inventors had already turned their imagination to home automation. Although the technology was still many decades off, the World’s Fair introduced the concept of automated home and smart appliances. Spectators were, unsurprisingly, fascinated with the idea. The feature, titled “The Homes of Tomorrow,” was never commercialized for the public. But it’s an early documentation of the continued innovation that would come when technology became more widely available.

1950s: Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce Invent the Computer Chip

They may have worked for different companies in different parts of the country – Texas Instruments and the Fairchild Semiconductor startup, respectively – but the building block for today’s smart home technology came from a parallel idea that a whole circuit could be made on a single chip. And we’re grateful for that!

1951: UNIVAC I

UNIVAC I, the world’s first commercially available computer, was introduced to the market in 1951 for business and administration tasks. Consider UNIVAC I the great-great-great-great granddaddy of today’s smart controls, which are all, essentially, minicomputers.

1964: The Uniscope 300

The Uniscope 300, one of the first computer monitors, hits shelves. And what would computers, smart hubs, and smart device controls today be without digital displays?

1966: ECHO IV

Though never commercially sold, ECHO IV was the world’s first home automation system. Invented by Jim Sutherland, the “Electronic Computing Home Operator” (hence, ECHO) could store recipes, relay messages, control a home’s temperature, churn out a grocery list, and turn appliances on or off.

1969: DARPA introduces ARPAnet

The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPAnet), was the world’s first digital network. It was the technological foundation and precursor to the modern Internet, and with it, all Internet of Things (IoT) smart technologies that exist today.

1981: Early WiFi Technology

A precursor to today’s wireless (802.11) technology is invented, in the form of 1G.

The 1980s: Home Automation for All

Home automation becomes much more commonplace to the public. Think automatic garage doors, early home security systems, motion sense lights, fiber optics, thermostat controls, and other technology. The future was looking bright!

1991: Gerontechnology

Ad van Berlo pioneers the field of gerontechnology – technology to improve the lives of senior citizens and the infirm. Remember the 90s-era commercials, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”? These early technologies form a firm base for the smart, life-enhancing features we love about today’s smart systems and their ability to connect to services we need.


Smart automation continued to grow and develop to the point where SmartHomes weren’t just in science fiction anymore. Throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, smart technologies emerged, with gadgets and devices becoming more common and more affordable.

The History of Home Automation: What Does the Future Hold?

Smart homes are evolving and becoming more sophisticated, but the goal of giving peace of mind is still there. We believe that the future of home automation will be focused on the continued integration of home devices. And appliances will continue to increase personalization, control, comfort, and convenience in the home.

One thing we know for certain is that existing home automation technology makes it easy for you to stay connected and in-the-know wherever you are, all from your phone. Our security camera solutions include smarter video analytics which eliminates guesswork, learns and identifies unusual activity, and keeps you notified in real-time what is happening in and around your property.

For More Security and Home Automation Tips and Solutions, Stick with My Alarm Center

Only time will tell how far it will continue to grow. But if we had to bet, future smart homes won’t be so far from the Jetsons as we once thought! Until then, safely enjoy the convenience and technology available today – and keep in mind how far it’s come!

And if you’re looking for more ways to keep yourself and your family safe, check out our home security and automation services at My Alarm Center. We offer a wide range of home security options to protect you and your family. If you’re ready to discuss our custom solutions, contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you prepare for what’s next.