The History of ADT Security

For over 140 years, ADT has grown tremendously— always leading the way in home security protection. From the early days of telegraph communications to current day web-enabled home security services, ADT has had an interesting journey. Just take a look.

The Beginning

1874: ADT, originally called the American District Telegraph Company, was first founded in 1874. The company first started in Baltimore, MD and was the leader in communications technology. Back then this was in the form of telegraphs.

Late 1890s: Technology is always changing and advancing. By the 1890s, a call box was introduced. Depending on the type of telegraph signal being sent, different offices (whether a doctor, police department, fire department, etc. could be contacted on behalf of a customer.


Messengers and Mergers

Late 1800s: ADT Messenger Boys were used to quickly relay customer messages. As a general rule, while relaying messages, they could only spend less than 1.5 minutes on a street block and spend less than 2 minutes inside a customer’s building. They had to be quick and attentive throughout the messaging process.

1902: ADT’s first president was Robert C. Clowry, a U.S. colonel. He was a self-made man who led ADT for eight prosperous years.

1909: A major change occurred this year. ADT and Western Union merged with AT&T. From being in the communications business, ADT would then transition to the signal business.


On the Road to IPO

1920: Cars were a recent invention that allowed ADT drivers to deliver messages even more quickly than the previously used ADT messenger boys (who had delivered messages on bikes).

1940: In 1940, ADT created some ADT-branded tech products that were extremely innovative for the time. These included the Teletherm automatic fire detection system, Telewave automatic intrusion system and the ultrasonic burglar alarm.

1969: 1969 marked the year that ADT became a publicly owned company. ADT stock is now available on the New York Stock Exchange.


100 Years. One Million Customers.

1970s: ADT creates the first automated central station call center, revolutionizing the industry.

1974: ADT celebrates 100 years in operation.

1981: ADT essentially becomes the company that it is today, creating the Safewatch residential system, Unimode fire systems and CentreScan (central station monitoring).

Late 1980s: The company name is officially changed to ADT. It is no longer The American District Telegraph.

1994: ADT hits another major milestone with having over one million customers.

1997: Tyco International purchases ADT.


ADT Today

2012: The separation of the company is completed. It is now an independent public company.

2016: ADT merges with Protection 1, expanding its products and services. ADT currently has over 6.4 million customers.