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Simple hubs chapter 1: The history of the television remote control

Updated on October 19, 2012

We all watch television nowadays especially more since everything has gone digital and when it comes to t.v the bigger the better. I only have a 32" at the moment but as long as i get to watch documentaries i am not bothered. But the thing is i am not going to talk about televisions in this hub "i think you might of guessed what i am going to talk about in this hub because the title gives it away. Yes that box that you hold in your hand to turn the t.v over the simple yet sophisticated television remote control. Some people would say that since the t.v remote control was invented people got fat and lazy but i say "Fabulous" invention. Like everything it has a history and i know there is not much you can write or talk about when it comes to t.v controllers but i thought i would give it a go.  

Biggest break through

The improved "Zenith Space Command" remote control went in to commercial production in 1956. Zenith engineer, Doctor Robert Adler designed the Space Command based on ultrasonics. Ultrasonic remote controls remained the dominant design for the next twenty-five years, and as the name suggests they worked using ultrasound waves.

The Space Command transmitter used no batteries; inside the transmitter were two lightweight aluminum rods that emitted high-frequency sounds when struck at one side. Each rod was a different length to generate a different sound that controlled a receiver unit built in to the t.v.

The first Space Command units were expansive due to the necessary use of one vacuum tubes in the receiver units that raised the price of a t.v by thirty percent. In the early 1960s, after the invention of the transistor, remote controls came down in price, and in size, as did all electronics. Zenith modified the Space Command remote control with the benefits of transistor technology (and still using ultrasonics) generating little hand-held and battery-operated remote controls. Over nine million ultrasonic remote controls were sold.

History of the lazy box.!

In June of 1956 the controller first started to appear in the American home but that wasn't the first practical use of a remote controller because believe it or  not as far back as 1893 there was a patent* U.S. Patent 613809 placed by Nikola Tesla. Even the Nazi (Germans) in world war 2 used remote control boats with devastating affect. Also in the late 1940s they started using remote for automatic garage doors. Anyway the first big break through in 1950 did not come as the remote we all know as today but a big bulky wire attached to the t.v set with a box on the end which could turn the television on and off and switch the channels (not many channels though back then). This remote was called "THE LAZY BONE" brought out by the Zenith radio corporation but customers hated it because people were tripping and falling over the big bulky wires. Could you imagine the health and safety nowadays. The first wireless television remote was the Flash-matic who Eugene Polly invented for the Zenith company. It worked by four photocells in each corner of the t.v screen and the operator used a directional flashlight to activate the four control functions which enabled you to turn the picture and sound on and off. There was only one problem though the sun rendered it useless as it turned the channels over on sunny days where it changed the channels over on its own.

Nowadays you get a remote control for practically everything from spaceship's to cars to radio,s  and all this is down to infrared technology. I don't know about any one else but i have about 5 remote controls in my household. Lets put it this way if it wasn't for the remote controller there would not be any games consoles today. So think about it that simple remote control you have sat on your settee arm does have a history that many people don't think about when they are turning there t.v sets over to a different channel or turning the volume down. All comments are welcome.

Does the remote make life easier for you...?

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    • manthy profile image

      Mark 7 years ago from Alabama,USA

      I couldn't even imagine owning a TV without a remote.

      Nice Original Hub