Home automation systems and smart homes might seem to be at the cutting edge of modern technology and the way of the future for homeowners – but the history of home automation is longer than you think!

From the first remote controls and home appliances to modern day smart lights and voice assistants – the history of smart homes spans over a century!

Below we will take a look at the development of smart technology and the progress made towards the type of appliances and devices common in-home automation in Australia today.

Tracing the thread between the very first smart devices to the robots, internet of things and home automated systems which make life so much easier for us all.

The History of Home Automation – 1898 to 2023

1898 Invention of the Remote Control

Automated devices have been a long-held idea in human history, featuring prominently in science fiction novels and predictions for the future even in the 19th century. But famed inventor Nikola Tesla took these ideas one step closer to reality when he invented the very first remote control!

The device was used to power a small boat and was a far step from the high capability remotes we use in our homes today but was the first instance of a device being controlled via instructions sent by radio waves.

1900-1920 Home Appliances and Devices Revolutionise Households

At the start of the 20th century, inventions, and development of household appliances meant that the time-consuming drudgery of household tasks were improved and cut short.

Domestic apparatus such as toasters, washing machines, refrigerators and clothes irons drastically cut the amount of human effort it took to complete daily chores.

Although most of these appliances were too expensive for most household to afford at first, they would become a mainstay in middle- and working-class homes over the decades.

Improvements and refinements to these appliances would continue throughout the century culminating in the smart home appliances we are familiar with now.

1960s – The First Home Computer is Developed

Constant improvements to home appliances, along with developments in electronics and computers saw the first prototype of a home automation computer announced in the mid-1960s.

The Echo IV computer could fulfil some of the functions which are familiar to smart homeowners today such as – constructing shopping lists, controlling home appliances, and monitoring house temperatures.

This was followed by the Kitchen Computer which was developed to help take cooking further with timers, guides and even recipe suggestions. However, the price of this smart home predecessor was too prohibitive, and it never became a fixture in homes.

1971 – Microcontroller makes Electronics Accessible to All

The 1970s saw electronic devices in kitchen and homes become a lot more accessible due to the invention of the microprocessor. The average homeowner could now begin to enjoy quicker functionality, spend less time in the kitchen and affordable electric devices.


1984 – The Term “Smart Home” is First Coined

Although it wasn’t until the last decade or so that smart home and home automation systems became a reality for homeowners, the term itself was first coined decades earlier. The American Association of House

Builders first used the term to describe an automated home system which would become commonplace in future homes.

This idea came of the back of further home appliance developments such as microwave dinners, video recorders which could be pre-set, and programmable washing machines and dishwashers.

Movies and popular media would spend the next decade coming up with various representations of what this might look like.

1990s – Home Automation Comes One Step Closer with the Clapper.

The invention of the clapper in the mid-1990s which allowed homeowners to turn their lights on and off via sound. Clapper owners could switch the lights on as they arrived home by clapping their hands (although they also found this could occur when their dog barked, a door clammed, or they coughed particularly loudly!)

This ease and automated control was a very important step in the move towards the home automation and smart home innovations of the future.

Early 2000s – High-Tech Smart Home Automation Systems Begin to Develop

The late 1990s and early 200s saw a quickening pace when it came to technology, the internet and what appliances were capable of.

Smart home technology no longer seemed the realm of the future or super rich; and practical applications for everyday homes such as automated lights, smart heating control, and sprinkler controls became accessible options.

2023 – Smart Homes of Today and the Future

Developments in technology, the internet of things, and electronic devices mean that smart home systems are becoming more and more accessible to millions.

Home automation in Australia is now a viable option for homeowners looking to improve their lifestyle, cut time on household chores, cut costs, and increase energy efficiency.

For home automation questions and concerns, please contact Canny Electrics on 1300 522 446.