This scientist is most known for creating the first home security system with her spouse, which they obtained a patent for in 1969. Her concept laid the groundwork for modern CCTV security systems and is cited in 35 U.S. patents.

Active research era: 20th century (date of death: 1999)

Gender: Woman

Country of origin: United States

URM Identity: Person of color, Black

Barriers broken by this scientist:

Marie lived in a time when Black women’s access to education was heavily impeded, and their efforts were hardly acknowledged. Also, considering her being a nurse, she potentially did not receive formal schooling in electrical engineering.

Background and early life:

Brown was born in Jamaica, Queens, New York on October 22, 1922, and resided there her whole life. She was married to an electronics technician, Albert Brown, and had two children, Albert Jr. and Norma.

The idea to build a home system came out of a desire for the safety of their home. At that time, the crime rates in her neighborhood were very high, and her occupation as a nurse implied long hours and working shifts at different times of the day.

The patent she and her husband filed in 1966 cited Marie as a lead inventor. Although their vision of the home security system was not manufactured on a large scale due to the high cost of production, this patent garnered them recognition in the inventor community and provided the baseline for current-day security systems.


Rebecca Hill, ‘Marie Van Brittan Brown (1922-1999) •’, 11 April 2016,….

Stephanie Buck, ‘This African American Woman Invented Your Home Security System’, Medium, 13 June 2017,

Cabrera, Claudio E., and Julia Jacobs. “Seven Black Inventors Whose Patents Helped Shape American Life.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 24 Feb. 2019,

Edited by

Teodor Grosu