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Doctor Curmudgeon® There are Times When…

By Diane Batshaw Eisman, M.D. FAAP Doctor Eisman is in Family Practice in Aventura, Florida with her partner, Dr. Eugene Eisman, an internist/cardiologist

Ah, indeed there are times when I want to scream at my door’s video camera.

I can be upstairs when my peace is shattered by an irritating clamor from my iPhone.

And so, I have to stop some important task such as washing my hands.

I grab the phone.

It demands to be unlocked.


It refuses to accept my fingerprint…just because some soap still clings to the tip of my finger.

Quickly, I punch in the code.

My phone opens.

I search for the app.

The app opens.

At least it has the courtesy to warn me that it will take a while to load, because it is very tired and I woke the camera up. Inconsiderate me!

And there it is!!! My husband was downstairs feeding his squirrel on the doorstep.

Actually, our video cam is helpful and I began to wonder who first thought about developing this device.

The inventor was an African American nurse from Queens, Marie Van Brittan Brown. Ms. Brown was concerned for the safety of her home.

The crime rate in her neighborhood was high with a slow police response. As she worked the night shift, she often walked home when it was dark.

Her husband worked odd hours in his profession as an electronics technician. Not infrequently, she was alone at home and fearful of a break-in.

Marie knew that she needed to feel more secure.

And so, with a little assistance from her husband, she set about to invent a system that would enable her to see who was at her door; and allow her to rapidly contact police.

Detail of Marie Van Brittan Brown’s home security system design
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

This ingenious system had three peepholes at different heights. She could then determine if the caller was merely a child or an adult and her surveillance design could also allow people of different heights to access the peepholes.

A sliding camera could move from peephole to peephole.

Marie connected the camera to her home television monitors; allowing her to be away from the door while she saw who was disturbing her peace.

This brilliant woman had also attached two-way microphones to her home security device.

Ms. Brown could even unlock her door remotely and had installed a call button going directly to the police.

Not a great deal is known about her early education, but she did attend Harrison College, DeVry University and the University of Phoenix.

Marie and her husband were granted a United States government patent on December 2, 1969. Their application was titled, “Home Security System Utilizing Television Surveillance.”

She did eventually receive some recognition for her invention as a recipient of an award from the National Scientists Committee.

Even though there are times when my video cam can be a vexatious little device, I am grateful to an amazing African American Nurse.

Thank you Marie Van Brittan Brown.

Dr. Curmudgeon suggests “Bitter Medicine”, Dr. Eugene Eisman’s story of his experiences–from the humorous to the intense—as a young army doctor serving in the Vietnam War.
Bitter Medicine by Eugene H. Eisman, M.D. –on Amazon

Doctor Curmudgeon® is Diane Batshaw Eisman, M.D., a physician-satirist. This column originally appeared on SERMO, the leading global social network for doctors.

SERMO www.sermo.com “talk real world medicine”

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