CCTV was first introduced in the UK in the 1960’s. Over the last forty-plus years monitoring for security purposes has evolved exponentially – and today we can all rest safely in the knowledge that no matter where we are the technology has evolved to such a degree clear and crisp images and videos are assured.

Today, the technology used in CCTV is highly sophisticated. Indeed, this evolution has seen a substantial advancement over the camera configurations of the 1960’s. CCTV of the ’60’s was synonymous with exceptionally low resolution black and white camera images, connected by a coaxial cable. A sixteen camera configuration required sixteen monitors.

The 1960’s saw the first generation of CCTV evolution. Initially impeded by substantial performance related issues, CCTV technology began evolving to meet societal demands. In the first instance switchboxes were added. This would allow operators multiple camera views through a single monitor. The only drawback was that only a single camera could be viewed at any one time.

As the decade rolled on, and we entered the 1970’s VCR’s, multiplexers, and solid state cameras were developed. Multiplexers allowed the screen to be broken into multiple frames on the same monitor and the introduction of VCR’s allowed for easy recording and distribution. Solid state cameras enhance the reliability of CCTV and integration of VCR.

Throughout the 1980’s the VCR was found to be increasingly unreliable. VCR’s could be notoriously temperamental, with the quality of the recordings unreliable. Given the low resolution of the images produced, poor quality of video tape and low-tech solutions, grainy and unclear images were standard. It was decided that the images produced by CCTV could not be conclusively relied upon for identification purposes. These CCTV systems had no motion detection capacity, and no way of viewing events from a remote location. This drove the industry to evolve further into the next decade.

The next generation CCTV system arrived in the mid 1990’s. The advent of computer-related technology produced the digital video recorder (DVR). The DVR facilitated images to be recorded at a much higher resolution than was previously possible. The DVR required no video tape – eliminating VCR recording.

The principal advantages of DVR were the continuation of recording and reel time viewing, complete with date and time stamps at the bottom of the picture. They could be rewound, and viewed to get a precise look at any images that were deemed important. In addition, DVRs used IP (internet protocol) technology to transmit two way audio, fully control the cameras and system over a local area network (LAN) allowing for optimal flexibility with remote operation possible. In short, they were the first truly modern CCTV cameras.

Today, CCTV cameras can pan, tilt, zoom and record images with a resolution that’s second to none. An operator can synchronize motion based video with audio analysis. Night vision is now possible, as is two-way audio with operators having the option to communicate with those that they’re looking at.

As you can see, CCTV has evolved exponentially over the last forty years – and will continue to do so to meet the needs of the surveillance market.