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Seen It All Before: How CCTV Evolved

There was a moment, back in the early 2000s, when the number of CCTV cameras was on the rise. Suddenly the public were aware of all those signs hanging in stores that said: ‘Smile – You’re on Camera’, or warned them that: ‘This store operates CCTV.’

And so, because of that, it’d be easy to conclude that CCTV is a relatively new invention that’s gained widespread popularity in the last two decades or so. But it’s not. In fact, CCTV is probably a lot older than you’d imagine. Let’s trace those roots all the way back to…


Ah, the dark days of 1942. As if it wasn’t bad enough that all those lovely, secure creature comforts we’re used to simply didn’t exist, you have the added issue of, well, Nazis. In ’42, Hitler’s hellish generals thought they were a shoo-in to win the war, and spent their time testing out V-2 rockets.

But how does a collection of Nazis get a close-up view of these tests? Well, sadly, not by tying themselves to the unguided missile, but by using the world’s first CCTV set-up, courtesy of tech manufacturers, Siemens. That way, all those fascist fiends could watch, live, the rocket’s take-off on a black and white monitor thanks to an analogue camera.

1970s and 1980s

It wasn’t for another thirty years or so that CCTV really took off. In part, that was thanks to the arrival of the now much-maligned VHS technology, which allowed owners to not simply watch monitors, but record images that could be used as evidence in criminal cases.

You can add to that that development of the multiplexers – which means that rather than having one person watch one screen, users could switch, at will, to multiple camera feeds on a single screen. That mean far more coverage, without taking up as much space as would be required by having individual monitors for individual cameras.


You can almost see that bright, digital future now, right? 60 years after the initial use of CCTV, we’d reached a whole new level. Not only had costs come down, meaning the tech wasn’t limited to banks and councils, but the technology itself had changed.

Rather than relying on grainy VCR images, CCTV swapped the old format out for DVR. This meant that storage space for CCTV tapes wasn’t required – instead, footage could be captured and saved direct to a digital format. Much easier and much more secure.


Welcome back to the present! Yep, we’re bang up-to-date now. But where are we at with our CCTV technology? In just a few short years since the advent of DVR, we’ve come on with leaps and bounds. These days it’s entirely possible to hook up a professional CCTV set up so that it streams images not just to your TV, but also your computer, tablet and smartphone.

Fancy setting up your own security measures, for both commercial and residential premises? Then we can help – after all, we offer awesome security services in Bristol and beyond. Simply contact our team on 01225 872 385 and we’ll be delighted to discuss your individual requirements.

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