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Remote Control History & Terminology

Are you doing a school report on remote controls? Or are you just interested in learned more about the history and important terminology of buying a remote control. What you don’t know is how useful knowing the lingo of buying replacement remote controls, how that can help you find the correct one to buy.

You may be wondering who exactly came up with the idea of controlling the television with a small hand held device. Or maybe you don’t, but you can definitely agree, life is a lot easier having it. Imagine getting up every time you wanted to change the channel or you wanted to turn up the volume up or down. Imagine just how ugly the front of the television would be, if it had to have all the buttons for controlling it. Or if you didn’t know what station you wanted to watch, you would find yourself standing there, especially if you have satellite or cable, for 10 or 20 minutes until you found something to watch. And hopefully you choose something you would be really happy with, because if you didn’t and what you picked turned out to not be as good as you thought, and then you would have to get back up and change it for another 10 to 20 minutes.

Anyways, the first remote control, although primitive to today’s remote controls, was created in the 1950’s by Zenith and originally was dubbed the term “Lazy Bone”. This remote control could only turn on and off the television as well as change the channel and was limited because it was still connected to the tv. I guess the benefit of that kind of remote control, was that it was almost impossible to misplace, however I’m sure it was constantly being tripped over.

Finally in 1955, again by Zenith they created the first wireless remote control, of course again it wasn’t like today’s televisions, you had to point the flash light type device at different beacon like devices at different points on the tv, instead of actually telling the tv what you wanted by buttons on the remote control. Finally in 1956, the remote control that used ultra sonic waves was used, although it increased the overall price of the television by a third, so it was a big deal.

Finally in the 1980s the infrared remote was created, which we are still using to control our televisions, vcr’s and other consumer devices today. Obviously the technology has improved significantly over the years. However, we personally believe there are years of remote control enhancements to come, such as not even using a remote control, and instead using voice activate command such as “Turn On”, “Volumn to 55”, something like that will probably happen in the next 20 to 30 years. Or maybe televisions won’t exist that many years in the future.

Remote Control Terminology

Remote Control: An electronic device that can control another electronic device. Most Remote Controls are used for consumer electronics, such as televisions, vcr’s, dvd players, home audio and even car audio.

Replacement Remote Controls: A remote control that can be used in place of the original remote control with all the same functionality.

Universal Remote Controls: A remote control that can be programmed to be used with almost an electronic device. Usually a universal remote comes with the codes to operate most consumer electronics. The major disadvantage a universal remote compared to a replacement remote, is that it’s need to be programmed constantly, usually everytime you replace the batteries. Also it's only usually able to control the basics such as power, channel and volume.

Infrared: Electromagnetic radiation that’s typically with wavelengths longer than visible light but shorter than radio waves.