Automation History


Servants Bells and Dum Waiters Using system of complex wires pulled by levers


The Remote Control Way back in 1898, Nikola Tesla created the first remote control to operate a toy boat. Tesla worked out a way to use radio waves to send instructions to his boat from a handheld device.


Home Appliances Before you can have smart appliances, you have to invent the appliances themselves! Between 1901 and 1920 there was a rapid development in domestic apparatus, kicked off by the invention of the engine-powered vacuum cleaner. After this, came the advent of refrigerators, washing machines, irons and toasters to revolutionise the lives of domestic maids – but these were still too expensive for most households to afford.


The Kitchen Computer After decades of progress in computing and developing electronics, the first ever smart device was born – the ECHO IV. This machine could construct shopping lists, monitor your home’s temperature and control appliances. A few years later, the Kitchen Computer arrived, taking cooking one step further and offering recipes but was, unfortunately, prohibitively expensive and never sold.


The Microcontroller In 1971, the microprocessor was invented, meaning technology was finally taking steps to being readily affordable for everyone. The price of electronics fell rapidly, bringing the convenience of domestic appliances to the masses.


Smart Home This phrase was coined in 1984 by the American Association of House Builders but it was still just a distant dream back then!


The Clapper The clapper was an electrical switch invented in 1996 and operated through sound, most commonly a clap (although it can be accidentally triggered by coughing, dog barking or slamming a door). This was the first, real move into smart home technology and was one of the 20th century’s most iconic inventions.


Home Networking and the Millennium House Home automation began to increase in popularity in the late 1990s and early 2000s as internet technology developed fast and smart homes suddenly became a more affordable option. Domestic technology or ‘domotics’ was a highly discussed topic as domestic appliances were being combined with computers. The Millennium House was a British show-home opened in 1998 to demonstrate how running a home could be automated with computer-controlled heating, security, lights, doors and gardens.


The Smart Homes of Today As technology becomes more and more affordable, and with the majority of western populations having home internet and a smart phone, smart technologies are slowly integrating into our homes. Today, the focus is on convenience, security and energy efficiency through connectivity and interactivity.