History of the Recorder

History of the Recorder

The security camera recorder that we sell today is a modern kit that has lots of functionality. This hasn’t always been the case. This is a brief history of the security camera recorder (or DVR or NVR).

Live View Only

It’s generally assumed that security cameras were first used in Germany in the early 1940s to monitor their V-2 rockets. These systems didn’t actually record any footage at all and only offered live views.

In the late 1940s this technology was picked up by an American contractor who then promoted the system. This was only for live monitoring

Early Video Recording

Early systems that recorded the video were reel-to-reel recording systems. These were magnetic tapes that had to be manually changed. Not just ejecting a VHS and inserting a new one – physically threading the tape from a new reel, through the recorder to an empty take-up reel. These systems really weren’t popular for obvious reasons and are now very uncommon.


The 1970s bought with it VCRs (video cassette recordings). This proved to be a major development for security cameras as the technology was quickly incorporated into the security systems.

The introduction of the VCR meant people did not have to sit and monitor live screens. Instead they could be set up and left to generally run by themselves. Operators could be reviewed at will after the event. This really made security camera systems popular for businesses.

Whilst a revelation and great improvement from only having a live view, tapes did still have to be regularly changed, otherwise the recording would stop. If you wanted to store footage for any period of time, a library of tapes would be required.


The next big development was in the 1990s with the introduction of multiplexers. Multiplexers took the video signals from multiple security cameras and allowed the user to display their chosen camera or cameras on the screen and more importantly recorded on one tape.

Multiple video feeds were synchronized by the multiplexer and then recorded on that one tape making the whole process more efficient and increased the popularity of security camera systems, not only for businesses but also for home owners.

DVR – Digital Video Recorders

Since the early 2000s, further technological advancements have meant the VCR has become redundant and been replaced with digital video recorders (DVRs) or security camera recorders. These work to make security camera systems user friendly and they actually incorporate almost all of the other technology that precedes it.

They are easy to operate and use and with the advent of larger hard drive sizes, enable security camera systems to be a fit and forget solution only requiring occasional inspection to ensure all is running smoothly.

The recorder now encompasses the networking technology which can bring together systems over wide geographical areas using the internet. The latest equipment also allow the user to take advantage of higher quality recordings, now in full 1080p High Definition.

These advances have increased the popularity and demand of security camera systems further both in businesses as well as for home users.

Don’t forget to check out our blog post talking about the invention of security cameras.


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