You May Not Know This, But the Wireless TV Remote Is a Pretty Big Deal

Toshiba remote control

Wireless remote controls sadly go unnoticed all the time these days. They control so many devices that people use every day — from DVD player remotes, to television remote controls, to very bizarre home thermostats that can be turned on and off with a remote control device from miles away.

So here are three little facts about the wireless remote control, and how it became such an important piece of technology in pretty much every aspect of our daily lives:

  • It took about five years after the very first TV remote controls rolled out for wireless technology to be developed. That’s right, the first television remote controls were connected to TV sets with long, annoying cables. Yep, people tripped on them all the time and got pretty angry. Yep, said cables looked pretty obnoxious and tacky, running across the living room floor.
  • Even when wireless TV remote controls made their debut in 1955, the technology still had a few flukes that made wireless remotes more of an inconvenience than anything else. These remotes, dubbed “Flashmatics,” used photo cell light rays to communicate with their corresponding TV sets. The main problem? Sunlight and lamplight got in the way all the time and disrupted the signal. Replacement TV remotes that used radio wavelengths weren’t much better — you’d go to turn the channel on your own TV set, and you’d accidentally turn on your neighbor’s TV set because the radio waves were so powerful.
  • But finally, in the 1980s, infrared technology became an essential part of the TV remote controls that we know and love today. The downside to any wireless remote is that it gets lost pretty easily (hint: it’s in your couch cushions), but because infrared programmable remote controls are so affordable and so easy to fix or replace when they suddenly “die,” they’ve become the most popular types of remotes that we use today.

So now it’s up to the readers: where do you think the remote control is headed? Will wireless remotes be replaced with something even better? Let us know what you think! Find more.

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