15 Jan The History of ADT
The Industrial Revolution gave us much more than horseless carriages, telephones, telegraphs and nickelodeons. People faced with emergencies, serious lack of something or just people’s curiosity in seeing how things would work out has given us some marvelous inventions. Today, we are so inundated with new and wondrous technologies that we forget how it all began. So if you’re curious how home security companies got their start, allow us to tell you about the history of ADT.
One Man’s Genius
To understand the beginnings of the alarm system, we have to go back in time. Up until the mid-1800s, security meant barking dogs, squawking fowl and dangling cords with cowbells above doors or windows.
But then a brilliant Boston inventor came up with the world’s first electro-magnetic alarm in 1853. His name was Augustus Russell Pope. Pope’s invention was a simple circuit which, when closed (upon the opening of a door or window) vibrated. This caused a hammer to strike a bell. Now, this wasn’t so amazing up to this point; what was amazing was that simply closing the door or window didn’t stop the bell. A spring loaded above the door kept the bell ringing until someone manually disengaged it.
In 1857, Edwin Holmes bought the rights to Pope’s invention, which he then used to found the Holmes Electric Protection Company. Holmes’ forte was advertising. In fact, he was the pioneer of branding. In the 19th century, most people distrusted this new thing called electricity. Rich people, though, dived right into it, and it was these names and faces Holmes attached to his new alarm system ads. One of his patents was for as centralized station, through which New York’s businesses ran their alarm systems. His son, Edwin, however, discovered how to use telephone cables to advance the idea of the alarm system.
How Telegraphs Come Into It
Ten years later, a telegrapher called Edward Callahan invented the first gold and stock ticker. This revolutionized Wall Street. Messengers on bicycles carried information to and from the exchanges. Elisha Andrews founded the company that manufactured the tickers, and it was for him that Callahan now worked. The security system came about when Andrews was robbed in his home. It horrified Callahan, who got to work on something that would prevent his boss being robbed ever again.
The innovation he invented was a call box and a bell for each house around his boss’ home. Each house had a certain number of rings on the bell to discover which house was being robbed. He then set about establishing a centralized emergency monitoring station. His cyclists would bike around to each call box to keep an eye on the neighborhood. Should the cyclist hear a bell ringing, he would then rush off to the police or fire department, whichever emergency department they needed.
Callahan divided New York into districts, with dedicated call boxes, bells and bicyclists to monitor the situation. Homes and emergency services were all connected to this central monitoring station. Callahan helped found the American District Telegraph Company or ADT. By 1875, the company had offices in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York and Brooklyn. From then on, all messages regarding stocks and emergency services used call boxes and messengers on bikes. One hundred years later, computers took over from the still-in-use call boxes.
With the advent of the 20th century came companies buying other companies. Western Union bought ADT along with other messenger services. Foreseeing the eventual decline of messenger services, the owner ditched the messengers and kept ADT as the security services branch of Western Union.
Ma Bell (AT&T) then decided to branch out. It bought Western Union and through them ADT. However, the Justice Department thought Ma Bell was getting too big for its britches and so forced AT&T to break into smaller companies. Forty years later, ADT came to the Justice Department’s attention for basically the same thing. The Justice Department then forced the company to regularize its services and pricing.
During all this, ADT has continued to pioneer home security innovations. The company has gone public, trading on the New York Stock Exchange (oddly enough, where it all began), been bought by Tyco, bought another security company itself (Brinks) and today is the king of security companies. ADT is the most trusted name in home security and business security today.
Now that you know how it all started and the history of ADT, contact us when you need ADT’s expertise and services.