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The History of CCTV Technology (1942 to Present)

In today’s age; CCTV technology is something we take advantage of

By gopal singh Published 3 years ago 4 min read

Over 90% of the world employ the use of this technology in their homes, streets and businesses, this has become something we have accepted. CCTV helps boost the security for both businesses and customers and can give them further peace of mind. Through the years, CCTV systems have evolved from the earlier designs to the ones we see today. Here is a brief history of CCTV technology

Live Monitoring

Germany 1942; the first ever recorded use of CCTV. It was designed by engineer Walter Bruch and was used to watch over and monitor the V-2 rockets. This was its first use until 1949 when it became commercialized, it was in this year that Verizon (an American government contractor) started to advertise the technology. These earlier versions could only transmit live video and had no option or any technology to record, so someone had to constantly be monitoring these.

Primitive Video Recordings

As time went on, new ingenious ways were discovered, one of which was the reel-to-reel recording system; these were made to help save the gathered data. The downside of these was that the magnetic tapes had to be replaced by hand; making this a difficult, unreliable, time consuming and costly process. Operators of this system had to manually feed the tape from the reel through the recorder and to an empty take up reel. These systems were quite rare.

The Emergence of VCRs

A turning point for CCTV technology was the emergence of Video Cassette Recordings or VCRs in the 1970s. These were immediately assimilated into surveillance systems, revolutionizing the way cameras worked. By using VCRs, the cameras were now able to run without the need for someone to monitor it as they were now able to record the information and users could then view the recording afterward. This made CCTV popular as a surveillance method for businesses.

Although, it should be noted that even though these were far more efficient than previous versions, it was still quite unreliable as the tapes had to constantly be changed or re-written as they only had a limited amount of space. If users such businesses wanted to record information over a long period, they had to keep a library of tapes.


Another event that helped develop CCTV technology was the development of multiplexing solutions in the late 1990s. Multiplexing allowed video signals from multiple CCTV cameras to be combined and shown on a single monitor. This allowed CCTV technology to become more efficient; increasing its popularity with the masses.

Multiplexing worked by taking one or more video signals, combining them, synchronizing them using the multiplexer, and recording these onto one tape. Businesses with more than one CCTV camera found this useful as they didn’t have to use loads of tape for each camera.

Going Digital

Since we have entered the millennial era, the development of new technology has been on the rise and CCTV is no exception. The previous uses of VCRs in CCTV systems have been replaced by more user-friendly and easier to use DVRs. Multiplexers are now already pre-built into these making them easier to install and use. They have also eliminated the need for videotapes, removing the need to keep a library of tapes to store recorded information.


Now, people can buy Network Video Recorders (NVRs), these types of recorders encode and process videos in the camera, then streaming the processed videos to NVRs to be stored or viewed remotely. NVRs are popular for many businesses with multiple site locations as it allows them to monitor said locations remotely at once through the network at a higher quality than DVRs.

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