Smart home ancestors - Thick and complicated

The first smart home ideas came as early as the beginning of the 20th century. At that time, it was not yet about the complete automation of one's own home, but the goals have always been the same: More comfort in everyday life and facilitation of housework.

Starting in 1901, the first successes were presented with an electric vacuum cleaner. In the years that followed, other electronic devices conquered households and were steadily developed further. These included above all refrigerators, washing machines and tumble dryers, toasters, etc.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the first ideas of a smart home emerged. For example, the American writer Ray Bradbury wrote in a short story about a fully automated house with intelligent assistants, which even outlived humanity.

The first kind of implementation happened in 1966, in which the first device with the idea of a fully automated house was developed by American engineer James Sutherland: The ECHO IV (Electronic Computing Home Operator). A huge, room-sized computer that weighed around 360 kilos and was about 25,000 times slower than ours today.

It could run simple learning programs, turn the TV on/off, control the temperature, display the time in real time, and it had an alarm clock function. So for the first computer, it had quite a bit going for it. Nevertheless, too little to make it into the market. So it was seen more as a signpost for the future and revolutionized in later years.

In the following years, other technical devices were introduced in a wide variety of areas to serve as assistants for people. However, due to the daunting prices and size of the devices, they were not accepted by the population for the time being. It was not until almost 3 decades later,in the 1990s and the beginning of the new millennium that home automation became more advanced. The first automatically driving and controllable household helpers such as robotic mowers and vacuum cleaners came onto the market and the networking of various systems such as heating, shading and lighting became better known and affordable for consumers from the new millennium onwards.

The great-grandmother of Siri, Google & Alexa

Another pioneering technical achievement was introduced like the first computer in 1966: The first chatbot ELIZA. Computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum designed a program that could communicate in written form. It recognized keywords in sentences and responded by writing a sentence associated with the recognized keyword.

After that, chatbots were further developed and released by numerous companies, initially for home computers, such as the voice recognition in Windows Vista in 2007. In 2010, Apple bought out the Siri company. Just a year later, along with the iPhone 4s, Siri was presented, the very first voice assistant for the smartphone. Within the next 4 years, Google, Microsoft and Amazon followed suit with their own voice assistants and gained more and more popularity until today.

You can learn more about the three most popular voice assistants in other articles on our blog, e.g. here.

Smart home today

Today's smart home is most definitely not "thick and complicated" like it was over 50 years ago. The field has continued to perfect itself over the decades. Today, smart-home aims for comfort, energy efficiency and security. The important thing is that all devices can be connected, individually set and operated and managed remotely via a cell phone app. As an example, the alarm system can be turned on in the morning as soon as you walk out the door. At the same time, the door locks, the smart lights turn off and the robot vacuum starts cleaning.

You can get a very detailed explanation considering all aspects in this article.

Images: U.S. Army Photos, via

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