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Rob Ratcliff was the Content and Community Manager of IFSEC Global.com. He is a self-confessed everyman in the world of security and fire, keen to learn from the global community of experts who have been a part of IFSEC for 40 years now.
December 12, 2013


Lithium-Ion batteries. A guide to the fire risk that isn’t going away but can be managed

Infographic: History of Video Surveillance

Video surveillance has come a long way in the past 60 years. From humble beginnings with black and white images on film to IP cameras with storage in the cloud, and a lot of steps in between.

This infographic, published last year by Super Circuits, explores the full history of CCTV and video surveillance.

What do you think of it? Extensive enough, or have super circuits missed some of the key milestones in the history of video surveillance?

History of Video Surveillance

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Robert Grossman
Robert Grossman
February 15, 2013 1:20 pm

A gap I noticed was the absence of telemetry. In the late 1960’s Donald Horn invented the pan/tilt mechanism and motorized zoom lens which dramatically improved the usefulness of cameras, particularly considering their limited resolution and light response. While PTZ cameras were far more costly and complicated than fixed cameras, they allowed for video surveillance and investigations which no doubt contributed to commercial acceptance of the technology. The invention of the consumer camcorder was also a significant factor. It dramatically reduced equipment cost as CCTV cameras finally achieved economies of scale, reduced the size of cameras (leading to 7″ domes… Read more »

Rob Ratcliff
Rob Ratcliff
February 18, 2013 4:43 am

It’s always fascinating to see how consumer technology directly drives costs down in business technologies. I think the addition of a ‘cameraman’ in the form of PTZ motors was perhaps an inevitable step, rather than a revolutionary one. Great point, though Robert.
Do you know is Mr Horn’s invention was specifically for the surveillance space, or was that for consumer tech as well?

Robert Grossman
Robert Grossman
February 18, 2013 12:05 pm
Reply to  Rob Ratcliff

Mr. Horn’s inventions were definitely for the commercial/industrial/government space. In 1967, when he founded Vicon to commercialize and market his products, there was no consumer market for video. The first consumer video recorders (VHS and Betamax) were developed in the mid 1970’s, and really didn’t start to achieve momentum in the market until 1979-1981. Sony showed the first consumer camcorder 1n 1980 and, as sales grew, the economies of scale started to impact the commercial/industrial markets. Products were developed for commercial applications, refined for high-end consumer products, and ultimately reached the mass market when manufacturing costs came down. I have… Read more »

Rob Ratcliff
Rob Ratcliff
February 19, 2013 7:24 am

So looking at the consumer industry today, what’s the trend? Smaller, more mobile equipment (cameras) that do multiple things. I suppose the convergence of security equipment is starting to reflect this, and then the emergence of PSIM solutions could in years to come become simplified so that we have security managment systems with low-price purchasable ‘apps’ that are capable of quickly adding new functionality to a system rather than full-scale firmware upgrades.

Robert Grossman
Robert Grossman
February 19, 2013 9:07 pm
Reply to  Rob Ratcliff

“Better, Faster, Cheaper” seems to be the mantra for many manufacturers, and I think that’s the only thing you can count on in terms of advancement. The technology will improve in lockstep with manufacturing improvements, and products will continue to get to be more reliable and less costly. In fact, arcane features are rapidly becoming the only differentiator, rather than a key differentiator.

Jeremy Malies
Jeremy Malies
February 20, 2013 7:27 pm

You might have mentioned that those old tube cameras in Trafalgar Square in 1960 were to protect the visiting Thai royal family not the House of Windsor! And could we give poor George Orwell a rest in terms of his ‘invention’ of CCTV surveillance? As if Orwell would not approve of 95% of the usage to which CCTV is put these days. And as if he would have been unable to draw a moral distinction (as Michael Moore suggests in his awful film Fahrenheit 9/11) between the United States of George Bush Jnr and the Iraq of Saddam Hussein. Here’s a… Read more »

Rob Ratcliff
Rob Ratcliff
February 21, 2013 7:17 am
Reply to  Jeremy Malies

Jeremy, this sounds like a great idea. And I agree in part with you on the Orwell thing. We all recognise the incredible amount of good that surveillance does. But Big Brother Watch and people like them are also important in ensuring checks and balances on that. A bit like the House of Lords, but less well paid.

August 14, 2015 11:55 pm

That is so crazy that most of what we do know, is all internet based. Even making phone calls are internet based and are improving through it. I wonder how this could change the way we think about our security. http://www.videotecsecurity.com/commercial/video.html