The fascinating history of home automation – Part 2



In recent years home automation has become more affordable, more accessible and a more common feature sought by buyers and home occupants alike.

It owes much of its accessibility and prevalence to the innovation of the latter part of the 20th century. In this second instalment of our two-part series we explore the fascinating history of home automation.

A revolution begins

While the early part of the 20th century saw big dreams and science fiction narratives devoted to automated domestic life, the second half of the century saw these dreams begin to come to fruition, and it all kicked off in the late 1960s.

This was the decade where theory was put into practice courtesy of the ECHO IV and the kitchen computer. Widely credited as being the world’s first smart device, the ECHO IV never sold commercially but could create a shopping list, control the home’s heating and cooling, and turn appliances on or off.

A year later Honeywell introduced the kitchen computer which could store recipes, but the invention failed to attract buyer interest.

Meanwhile, 1969 saw the world’s first network conceived. It was a precursor to the internet.

Tech innovation

By the 1970s computers were beginning to find more and more uses in everyday life, but it wasn’t this adoption of technology that enabled the first smart home concept to roll out. Instead the first commercially available smart home products came in the form of the X10 Home Automation Project, which used existing electrical wiring to control lighting and select appliances.

The smart home name arrives

By the mid-1980s buildings which utilised linked and automated features and appliances to improve the life of home occupants had a name – the smart house. It was coined by the American Association of Builders.
At about this time features like remote control garage doors, security systems, motion sensors, and thermostat controls were becoming commonplace.


The name may leave a bit to be desired, but by the early 1990s the benefits of home automation for the elderly were beginning to be explored. The technology was aimed at improving the lives of the infirm, and included medical alert buttons and more. In many ways this set the grounding for the smart home, illustrating the true potential that connectivity could offer home occupants.

The Smart Home unveiled

In 1998 the first proof of concept smart home was unveiled, including features like wireless automation and integration. A year later Disney released a film called “Smart House” that envisioned an automated future complete with a digital assistant. Meanwhile, the same year Microsoft released a video illustrating its predictions for the smart homes of the future.


Since the turn of the century home automation has become more affordable and more accessible for all. Wireless technology spurred on the movement as did the increased internet speed. Meanwhile, once expensive smart home appliances are now commonplace and readily affordable as home automation shifts to offer not only convenience but green credentials such as energy savings.

The future will bring even more exciting innovation to come, and at Lera we are poised to embrace its potential and source the best elements of home automation on our customer’s behalf.

About Lera

Lera Smart Home Solutions is a leading installer of smart home technology in the greater Sydney region. Our team boasts over 20 years’ experience in IT networking, programming and the electrical industry.

We have sourced the most reliable and cost efficient solutions from around the world to provide the very best in smart home solutions, and work with our clients to understand their needs.

You can learn more about transforming your house into a smart home, or contact us directly for further advice.