Television is a major part of American life, and has been for nearly a century now. The average American will spend between three and five hours a day watching TV with over 189 cable channels at their disposal, and that’s not even to mention Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and other streaming/on demand services that offer additional content.
Your parents or grandparents might have told you at some point that when they were your age they only had two or three channels on their TV, and that in order to change the channel or volume they had to walk up to the buttons and dials on the TV itself. It’s almost impossible to think of a time before remote controls, especially in this day and age where nearly every device we use can be controlled remotely, including our cars and homes!
But up until 1950 when the first remote control was developed, people had to get off their butts to control their televisions. And even this first remote made by Zenith, fittingly named “Lazy Bones,” had its limitations. It was connected to the TV by a wire. While this invention was a major breakthrough in modern American entertainment and comfort, the first wireless remote, developed in 1955, was an ever bigger step.
Developed by Eugene Polley, the Flashmatic remote control would flash a beam of light to the photoelectric cell receiver to send a signal to the TV. The problem was that the receiver also picked up on other light sources, so this version of the wireless remote soon became outdated. Other versions of the wireless remote control began to emerge in the 50s, utilizing different technology such as ultrasound. In the 1980s infrared technology for remote controls was pioneered by Paul Hrivnak of Viewstar Inc. This technology became the standard for TV remotes, and still is today, though now bluetooth TV remote controls are becoming more and more popular since there is no need to aim these remotes at the receiver.
And, of course, the rise of the remote control has spurred an entire industry. People are always looking for replacement TV remotes when they break or malfunction, and there are plenty of places to find them. For instance, a simple online search of, say, “Toshiba remote control replacement” will garner hundreds of thousands of results. If you’re not looking for a Toshiba remote control replacement in particular, a broader search will yield even more results.