Closed circuit TV monitoring at the Central Police Control Station, Munich Germany in 1973.
Desk in one of the regional control-rooms of the National Police in the Netherlands in 2017.
CCTV control-room monitor wall for 176 open-street cameras in 2017.
The first CCTV system was installed by Siemens AG at Test Stand VII in Peenemünde, Nazi Germany in 1942, for observing the launch of V-2 rockets. The noted German engineer Walter Bruch was responsible for the technological design and installation of the system.
In the U.S. the first commercial closed-circuit television system became available in 1949, called Vericon. Very little is known about Vericon except it was advertised as not requiring a government permit.
The earliest video surveillance systems involved constant monitoring because there was no way to record and store information. The development of reel-to-reel media enabled the recording of surveillance footage. These systems required magnetic tapes to be changed manually, which was a time consuming, expensive and unreliable process, with the operator having to manually thread the tape from the tape reel through the recorder onto an empty take-up reel. Due to these shortcomings, video surveillance was not widespread. VCR technology became available in the 1970s, making it easier to record and erase information, and use of video surveillance became more common.
During the 1990s, digital multiplexing was developed, allowing several cameras to record at once, as well as time lapse and motion-only recording. This increased savings of time and money which then led to an increase in the use of CCTV.
Recently CCTV technology has been enhanced with a shift toward Internet-based products and systems, and other technological developments.
Closed-circuit television was used as a form of pay-per-view theatre television for sports such as professional boxing and professional wrestling. Boxing telecasts were broadcast live to a select number of venues, mostly theaters, where viewers paid for tickets to watch the fight live. The first fight with a closed-circuit telecast was Joe Louis vs. Joe Walcott in 1948. Closed-circuit telecasts peaked in popularity with Muhammad Ali in the 1960s and 1970s, with "The Rumble in the Jungle" fight drawing 50 million CCTV viewers worldwide in 1974, and the "Thrilla in Manila" drawing 100 million CCTV viewers worldwide in 1975. Closed-circuit television was gradually replaced by pay-per-view home cable television in the 1980s and 1990s.
In September 1968, Olean, New York was the first city in the United States to install video cameras along its main business street in an effort to fight crime. Another early appearance was in 1973 in Times Square in New York City. The NYPD installed it in order to deter crime that was occurring in the area; however, crime rates did not appear to drop much due to the cameras. Nevertheless, during the 1980s video surveillance began to spread across the country specifically targeting public areas. It was seen as a cheaper way to deter crime compared to increasing the size of the police departments. Some businesses as well, especially those that were prone to theft, began to use video surveillance. From the mid-1990s on, police departments across the country installed an increasing number of cameras in various public spaces including housing projects, schools and public parks departments. CCTV later became common in banks and stores to discourage theft, by recording evidence of criminal activity. In 1998, 3,000 CCTV systems were in use in New York City. A study by Nieto in 2008 found many businesses in the United States had invested heavily in video surveillance technology to protect products and promote safe workplace and consumer environments. A nationwide survey of a wide variety of companies found that 75 percent utilize CCTV surveillance. In private sector CCTV surveillance technology is operated in a wide variety of establishments such as in industry/manufacturing, retailing, financial/insurance/banking, transportation and distribution, utilities/communications, health care, and hotels/motels, parking areas, jewelry shops.
Experiments in the UK during the 1970s and 1980s, including outdoor CCTV in Bournemouth in 1985, led to several larger trial programs later that decade. The first use by local government was in King's Lynn, Norfolk, in 1987. These were deemed successful in the government report "CCTV: Looking Out For You", issued by the Home Office in 1994, and paved the way for an increase in the number of CCTV systems installed. Today, systems cover most town and city centres, and many stations, car-parks and estates.