X10. Several years ago (pre Z-Wave) it was what there was if you didn’t want to spend a fortune rewiring and a bigger fortune installing a proprietary big name system. They had an early automation system called ActiveHome which had a serial port interface and some Windows software. It was basic (timers and whatnot) but had some basic if-then support for scenes.
Problem of course was the underlying X10 tech worked pretty good, most of the time. It was based on powerline communication at the zero crossing so it often wouldn’t cross from one phase to the other, and sometimes whether it would or not was a function of whether you had any 2-phase devices (AC, dryer, etc) running or not. So you needed a mess of boosters and extenders and whatnot to make it work halfway reliably.
From there I went to Vera Lite and Z-Wave. I picked Z-Wave over ZigBee because even though ZigBee seemed more open, it was actually more proprietary since every manufacturer was running their own protocol over the Z-Wave bus (and thus devices wouldn’t talk to each other across manufacturers). Z-Wave was far from perfect, but it was fully compatible, and it worked. Vera’s UI5 interface was excellent with a ton of extra plugins for pretty much everything you could imagine.
Then Vera moved to their newer UI7 interface which, while a visual upgrade, is a functional downgrade. And as part of that ‘upgrade’, now the only way to put any sort of password on your Vera was to restrict it to cloud access only. No thanks.
So now I’m running HomeSeer. It’s not the cheapest (especially with the paid plugins), but it works with more or less everything, and doesn’t require plugins or device handlers for standards-compliant Z-Wave devices. And I can run it 100% cloud free. All my old first-gen Z-Wave stuff still works, I’ve got a mix of Zooz and HomeSeer smart switches, and a box of Inovelli switches that are getting added one of these days
I’ve also found that, in general, intuitive (things that simplify remove manual actions) is better than functional (giving you a lot of control easily). Best automation so far was the motion sensor light in the laundry room- cheap motion sensor and a $30 Costco plug in light strand on the ceiling. So now neither me nor my partner ever have to turn the laundry light on or off.