Alarm Industry Celebrates 150 Years

The first electronic burglar alarm was invented in 1858 by Edwin Holmes. ESX event will mark the sesquicentennial anniversary.

By Jason Knott
February 05, 2008
There's a lot of gray hair in the alarm business. Now we know why -- it's old!

In fact, it's older than telephones!

2008 is a major milestone for the electronic burglar alarm industry. It was May 1858 in Boston when Edwin Holmes founded the Holmes Burglar Alarm Company.

Holmes was the first person to offer alarms using electro-mechanical technology to detect an intrusion to a premise.

In addition, Holmes started the first company that installed burglar alarm systems. The success of Holmes' new service would lead him to open offices in many cities of the United States.

Holmes pioneered methods and business practices that remain in use to this day. The alarm industry quickly spread with subsequent alarm companies following the Holmes example by developing advanced detection and central station systems which emulated his technology and his recurring revenue service model.

Edwin Holmes' influence extended beyond the alarm industry. Most notably, Holmes lent his early expertise to the fledgling telephone industry and played an instrumental role in the development of the first telephone company.

It was in the Holmes' company Boston office that telephones were first interconnected, allowing subscribers to call selected locations. In addition, Holmes served as the very first president of the New York Telephone Company.

To celebrate that achievement throughout this year, the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) will release monthly profiles about technologies that spurred the electronic alarm industry.

Meanwhile, at the Electronic Security Expo (ESX) in Nashville, Tenn., from June 25-27, the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) will commemorate its 60 anniversary with an evening reception on June 26 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.

Return to full story: