A Brief History of Home Automation From 1900s to 2020s

Home automation is something we take for granted nowadays. We cannot imagine our day without having an Alexa device playing our music, our smart TV showing the latest Netflix shows or a day without our smartphone.

The technology progress has been through a lot of changes throughout the years, and that is shown best in our daily appliances and smart devices. In order to show you how grateful we should be for what we have, we collected some historical moments of technology at the beginning vs technology today.

Did you know that home automation started out with machines designed for labor-saving? Here are some of the most influential inventions in this department since 1800s when all started.

1. 1876 – The First Telephone


The credit for inventing the telephone goes to multiple inventors of the 19th century. Among them we have Antonio Meucci, Elisha Gray and of course, Alexander Graham Bell.

Bell was however the only inventor who patented the telephone with the name “apparatus for transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically”.

The first phone looked a lot like the one in the picture and consisted of a wooden box that had a hole in which was included a diaphragm. The diaphragm vibrated in accordance with an electric current that was stimulated by the voice / sound made by the person located at the other end.

In order to be sensed by the diaphragm, people had to shout whenever they used the telephone.

2. 1880 – First Innovation in Home Lighting


The most popular in this sector, is of course marked by the introduction of the light bulb by Thomas Alva Edison back in 1880s. The first lightbulb used cotton and linen threads combined with wood splints and paper as filament.

Of course the results lasted for a short amount of time and that needed to change rapidly. The next step involved bamboo filament and afterwards Edison tested carbon filament bulbs which brought better results.

In 1902, Siemens created a tantalum lamp filament which lasted longer than Edison’s carbon solution because this was based on the tantalum metal which had greater resistance to higher temperatures.

3. 1902 – The First Air Conditioner


The first modern air conditioning system was designed in 1902 by Willis Haviland Carrier, a 25 year old from New York. He started out by experimenting with the laws of humidity control in order to solve an application problem at a printing plant in Brooklyn, NY.

The machine presented in the picture was a device that was able to blow air over cold coils in order to control room temperature and humidity. This helped keeping the paper from wrinkling and the ink in place.

4. 1907 – The First Electrical Washing Machine


Mighty Thor was the first electrically powered washing machine and it was introduced back in 1907 by the Chicago-based company Hurley Electric, a company specialized in laundry equipment back in the day.

This is the first automatic washing machine ever created and the efforts are attributed to Alva J. Fisher, a Hurley engineer who got the patent on August 9, 1910.

5. 1913 – The First Refrigerator Came to Life


1913 marked the year of the first residential refrigerator. It was produced by Fred W. Wolf, a guy from Indiana. His idea turned into DOMELRE (Domestic Electric Refrigerator) and was sold in a couple of hundreds of units only.

In 1914, an American inventor called Nathaniel B. Wales introduced the idea for a practical electric refrigeration unit that became the base of Kelvinator. The Kelvinator included a self-contained refrigerator that used a compressor at the bottom of the cabinet.

6. 1927 – The First Electronic Television


The history of televisions actually starts back in the 1800s, but those were mechanical televisions. The mechanical televisions were based on mechanical scanners of image that were able to transmit images on a screen.

The first actual electronic television came to life in 1927 as a result of the efforts of a 21 year old named Philo Taylor Farnsworth. The guy lived until he was 14 years old in an house without electricity.

7. 1886 – The First Electrical Dishwasher


The first mechanical dishwasher was actually registered for patent in 1850 in the US by Joel Houghton. This machine was made out of wood and was cranked by hand while water was sprayed on to the dishes. A new and improved electrical model invented by the socialite of that time named Josephine Cochrane came to life in 1886 under the name Lavadora, but was renamed to Lavaplatos because other invention already had that name.

The first electrical dishwasher in Europe came to life in 1929 thanks to Miele, the German domestic appliance manufacturer.

8. 1899 – The First Vacuum Cleaner


The first manual vacuum cleaner was invented by Daniel Hess back in 1860 and was called “carpet sweeper”. It was only able to gather dust using a rotating brush actioned by hand.

In 1905 Walter Griffiths designed a “carpet sweeper” that resembles the vacuum cleaners of today. In 1906 James B. Kirby developed the first electrical vacuum cleaner called “Domestic Cyclone”, the first of many models and this way he started a revolution in the industry of floor care products.

9. Personal Assitants (1900+)


You know how back in 1900s wealthy people had butlers and servants? Well, nowadays you can have Amazon Alexa to assist you, and you don’t even have to be wealthy.

Besides that, Alexa combined with the power of Google search and YouTube can provide way more relevant information in just seconds.

10. First Programmable Thermostat


In 1883, a Swiss-American inventor named Albert Butz filed for patent for the first temperature regulator for ovens using a system called damper flapper. The system automatically regulated the air intake of coal furnaces in order to raise or lower the oven temperature.

Soon after, in 1906 another inventor and engineer named Mark Honeywell purchased the patent from Butz and developed the first programmable thermostat.

The thermostat included a clock that allowed pre-setting the temperature for the next morning.

See how GeeksFL deals with climate control today and how we can transform your home.

11. 1942 – The First CCTV Camera


CCTV or Closed-Circuit Television is an essential element of every reputable security system today. The first documented CCTV use was in 1942, Nazi Germany during the World War II. The system was designed by Walter Bruch, an engineer who came with the solution because they needed to monitor the first long-range ballistic missile from a safe location.

The system however didn’t include recording, but enabled them to see live image. In 1949 the first CCTV system became available to the public and was manufactured by Vericon, an American company.

Want to See How Future Technology Looks Like?


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