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The Evolution of CCTV

Protecting everything from people's homes and independent shops, to football stadiums and sites of historical interest, closed-circuit television (or CCTV) is a common sight across the globe. CCTV is the term given to a video camera (or system of cameras) offering live monitoring that is transmitted directly to a limited number of monitors and generally recorded.

While today's CCTV systems can be unbelievably technologically advanced, it all began back in Germany in 1942, when engineer Walter Bruch designed a system to monitor the launch of the V-2 rocket. Later in the wartime years, the US atomic programme used similar technology for its test launches and in 1949, the first commercial company to offer CCTV (Vericon) was launched, but with little success.

Fast forward to 1960 and the Metropolitan Police used temporary video cameras to monitor crowds for two separate events: the arrival of the Thai royal family, and Guy Fawkes night. Throughout the 1960s, CCTV was predominantly used by the police and by some transport operators, but it was still relatively uncommon, as setup costs were high and running the required cables was a struggle.

The 1970s saw technological developments that made CCTV more accessible, thanks to the launch of the VCR. Now, people had a way to record CCTV footage without needing to watch live streams. It increased CCTV's popularity amongst businesses, but it still wasn't perfect: tapes had a limited capacity and needed to be changed regularly or overwritten, and to store footage for a period of time required a good amount of space.

Multiplexing signalled the next big development in the 1990s - the ability to capture footage from multiple CCTV cameras and both display and record them on a single split screen. For businesses and services alike, it meant greater efficiency, as well as savings in both time and money, which significantly increased both popularity and actual uptake.

Since then, further developments have had a huge impact on the CCTV industry. Digital technology developments saw footage being recorded onto DVRs rather than VCRs, making the systems more user-friendly and removing the need to store bulky cassettes. The arrival of network video recorders (NVRs) heralded another major development, with organisations with multiple site locations being able to view high quality footage of all the covered locations via the network or internet, all at the same time.

There is now a vast number of different systems available for both consumers and organisations alike, with varying levels of functionality and complexity to suit different needs. You'll find dome cameras that are unobtrusive, and these can sometimes allow the camera to be moved remotely. Bullet cameras are popular for long distance viewing. Day/night cameras allow for coverage in both good and poor lighting, while there are even night vision cameras available to record footage in pitch black conditions. Wireless cameras offer a huge amount of flexibility, while HD cameras are often used in environments like casinos, where the level of detail is so great that operators can see even the smallest hint of a card up a player's sleeve. For the home security market, consumers can even choose CCTV systems that come complete with an app, meaning that they can view footage from their phone wherever in the world they might to be.

From its humble beginnings, the CCTV camera has developed into something truly sophisticated - we're looking forward to seeing what the next wave of developments has to offer!

If you're looking for a modern, up-to-date CCTV system, take a look at the range on offer at Trelawney Fire & Security. From simple systems with a single camera, to fully functional dome camera systems with remote monitoring, all our systems comply with industry standards and are designed to give you peace of mind. Contact us to find out more.

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