Victor Houk, ‘Father of CCTV,’ Dies at 83


Victor Houk, dubbed “the father of U.S. CCTV” for helping to make CCTV surveillance a viable business in North America, has passed away. He was 83. Houk was recently named as one of the first 25 inductees into the SSI Hall of Fame, which honors those who helped shape the electronic security industry.

Houk was admitted to a hospital on Feb. 23 with meningitis and suffered a brain hemorrhage. He died March 6.

When CCTV was looking to be an industry exclusively in the domain of Japanese companies, it was Houk who recommended CCTV as a business with growth opportunity to his bosses at RCA in 1970 and was named director of marketing and sales for RCA’s new CCTV division in 1972. Spurred by Houk, RCA became the largest supplier of CCTV equipment.

“He was the instigator in the American market to make it an American industry as opposed to a foreign industry,” says Victor’s son Steve. “He loved the work he was doing. He was active right up to the end.”

When informed of his entry into the SSI Hall of Fame in January, Houk expressed his appreciation and noted his current activity in the industry. Until his death, Houk was a consultant for Clovis, Calif.-based video security manufacturer Pelco. “I appreciate this opportunity from SSI to give my overview of the industry as I will soon be leaving active participation in the industry, which I married at its infancy, 33 years ago,” Houk toldSSI.

Members of Houk’s family plan to represent him in Las Vegas at a March 30 ceremony honoring the SSI Hall of Fame inductees as part of the 2004 SAMMYs.

Houk earned an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering at the Univ. of Tennessee and a graduate degree from MIT in industrial management. He joined RCA in the late 1940s after serving in the U.S. Army Signal Corp. in Communication Security. He left RCA in 1985 after it was bought out by GE and became vice president of marketing and sales for American Dynamics (AD). After Sensormatic bought out American Dynamics, he left the company in 1995 to start Vision Research.

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