YouTube user Avboden still uses a home automation system from 1985.

The video at the end of this article shows the owner giving a full rundown of the system, proving the 30-year old system to be surprisingly intuitive, once you get past that 80s green text.

The user revealed that at the time the system would cost anything between $5,000-10,000, depending on the system

Like today’s home automation systems, the main menu is simple in its layout, displaying options such as temperature settings, floor plans, lighting control, the sprinkler system, HVAC control, security and general maintenance settings.

The temperature can be set, controlled and scheduled in each room, as can the lighting.

The user points out that lighting is controlled via relays, while the outlets/switches are X10, not X11 as he mistakenly says in the video.

The sprinkler system boasts 24 different relays, including dry land, shrub and lawn – and can be scheduled just like the lights can.

HVAC control lets him set the fan, furnace, air conditioner and valves, while the general maintenance section gives settings for dampers, the AC system and the relay system – it even has an on board system test.

“If it had the telephone board I could dial into it on any phone and give commands with the keypad. So in 1985, you could literally use your phone to turn on the lights!”

“The security system is completely controlled though here as well,” he explains. “In security commands we have an access log, I can change the delay time, test the alarm and alert log tells us when various things have been tripped.”

The system allows for call-in control, meaning that if this system had a telephone board, the owner could input commands remotely.

“It’s through a landline system, obviously, being from the 80s,” he points out. “If it had the telephone board I could dial into it on any phone and give commands with the keypad. So in 1985, you could literally use your phone to turn on the lights!”

The user notes that the system says 1990 on it, as that is when this particular model was installed. “I say 1985 because that’s when the model of this system was released.”

Although the user did not specify the manufacturer, one home automation fan pointed out that the system is made by Unity Systems, the product being called, Home Manager.

According to the website, over 7,500 homeowners still use the system today. Being from the 80s, the website’s main function is to help users keep their systems maintained and in good working order.

‘Like a fine automobile that needs a little service every now and then to keep it performing as it should, the Home Manager needs a similar level of service on occasion,’ says the website.

‘And sometimes it even breaks and needs repair or replacement. All of which can indeed be taken care of.’

The manufacturer advises that the touchscreen frame should be cleaned every six months or whenever it begins to operate skittishly, while the main battery should be changed every three years.

According the manufacturer, The Home Manager is one of ‘the first and most successful home automation systems ever produced,’ developed by Unity Systems in Redwood City, California.

The company was formed in 1983 for the purpose of creating a touchscreen-based home automation system.

The Home Manager was introduced in 1985 and was produced by the company until 1999 when Unity Systems closed its doors and ceased to operate.

During its 14-year production run the software was continually updated and multiple enhancements were made available to increase the value of the product for new and existing customers.

The system

It incorporates a security system, a zoned temperature control system and a sophisticated lighting and appliance controller.

The system comprises a main control panel that typically is located in a closet, garage or mechanical room, with one or more touchscreens.

Additionally, keypads are typically located throughout the home, at which the user can turn on and off the security system and trigger the lights on and off.

A key feature of the Home Manager is its ability to integrate its internal systems to allow the homeowner to maximise automation.

For example, when the security system is armed and the homeowners leave the home, the temperature settings in the home can automatically be set back and the lights can take on a schedule unique to when the home is vacant.

When the homeowner returns and disarms the security system, the temperature settings return to normal and the lighting schedules return to their normal, at home, schedules.

Not stopping there, pool equipment, curtains, hot water, heated floors, sprinklers, garage doors, gates, exhaust fans, audio and home theatre equipment have all been controlled by the Home Manager to meet the particular needs of a customer.

‘The product was sold through a dealer network that consisted primarily of small, dedicated companies enthralled with the excitement that home automation evokes,’ says the website.

In 2015, The HomeWorks Group is one of the only original dealers that continues to support the Home Manager.

Those wanting to upgrade can invest in The Series II Home Manager System, utilising the wiring infrastructure and the temperature control components of the original system, while replacing all other components with ‘the newest, best in class technology equipment available today’.

Watch the video below.


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