A Brief History of the TV Remote Control


Universal remote codes

Can you imagine having to get up and go over to the TV every time you want to change the channel or increase or decrease the volume? Unless you have lost your audio and TV remotes and are waiting for replacement remote controls to arrive, you probably never do this. Believe it or not, however, this used to be the reality of watching television. Way back in the early days of television, before TV remote controls existed, people would have to get up every time they wanted to change the channel or volume. Luckily this didn’t last for long thanks to inventors who started to work on a solution to this problem.

The First TV Remote Controls

The very first remote control was created by the Zenith Radio Corporation in the year 1950. Known as “Lazy Bones,” this remote was actually connected to the TV set by a thick cable. For the first time, television watchers were able to change channels simply by pressing a button on the remote. By pressing the button, viewers could either turn the tuner clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on the desired channel. Not only were people able to change channels from the couch, but they could also now turn their TV sets on and off, as well. As great as it was to not have to get up to change channels or turn the TV on or off, the bulky cable that connected the remote to the TV was a nuisance. This prompted inventors to start working on wireless replacement remotes for TVs.

Cutting the Cord

In 1955, the “Flashmatic,” offered a solution to the annoying cable that was required by “Lazy Bones.” Invented by Zenith engineer Eugene J. Polley, the Flashmatic was one of the greatest TV remote replacements, as it paved the way to the wireless TV remotes we depend upon today. This remote was essentially a flashlight that prompted changes through four photo cells positioned in each corner of the TV screen. Each corner had a different function, and when the remote focused light on one of the corners, the desired change would take place. While this was a big step for the TV remote industry, there was one big problem with the Flashmatic that became apparent very quickly. Light from lamps or even light coming in through the window could cause the TV to turn on or off or change channels.

Modern Day Television Remote Controls

While these early TV remote controls had their share of flaws, they were the first steps towards the modern remotes we use today. Modern TV remotes are programmable, easy to use and can manage a number of different tasks. A single remote can be used to operate a TV, DVD player, VCR and other devices. Some remotes can even be programmed to operate functions throughout a home, including turing lights on and off, opening and closing shades and, of course, working the TV. Continue: remotes.com

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