Here are the phases of how remote controls evolved through time
- The Early Radio Remote-
All Smart inventors are always finding ways to make our lives easier. One of the earliest customer remote innovations came from the company “Philco.” In the 1930s, Philco launched its amazing “Mystery Control” for the household radios. It resembled a rotary telephone without a handset. The remote operated on radio frequencies. It was wireless, and it was also about the size of a dictionary, so not exactly portable. Television Hits the Scene.
- Television Hits the Scene-
Most TVs had two circular dials that allowed you to change channels on UHF or VHF frequencies. The cable box was an electronic tuning device that allowed cable consumers to convert cable channels to a VHF signal. The cable boxes, like the popular woodgrain version from Hamlin, typically featured a slider including several dozen stations, not the hundreds of channels we see in cable and satellite television today. Eventually, most cable converter boxes still required TV watchers to remove their rear ends from the cushion – not exactly couch potato-friendly.
- The Emergence of the Television Remote-
In the 1950s, American electronic manufacturers started developing handheld devices for controlling televisions. Zenith, an early pioneer in TV remotes, was one of their very first models was called the “Lazy Bones.” It connected to the television set with a wire. You use your thumb to push a single button to tune in a station. Eventually, other electronic companies started developing their remotes. Not only they were marketed but as a convenient way to relax while watching television and mainly used as a way to avoid advertising.
- The Modern Remote Goes Mainstream-
Remote controls were considered a luxury device for many years. In 1979, it was estimated that only about 17% of American the households had a remote control. The growth of cable TV changed everything and wasn’t long until everyone needed a remote, and they started coming standard with every Television set. Already by now, remotes began to resemble the devices we are currently used to see but still had limited functionality. Infrared technology became a norm for TV remotes and is still used today.
- Universal Remote Innovation-
One of the first individuals to work on developing a universal remote control was Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. He left the company in the mid-1980s to start a startup company which developed universal remotes that control TVs, VCRs, stereos. Having multiple remotes was a problem that personally frustrated Wozniak, and he was successful in solving the issue. The first programmable universal remote, “CL 9 CORE,” launched in 1987. The 20-button handheld device came with an LCD screen that could learn signal patterns from other remote controls.