Fifties TV Remote Control
Author: James Fohl
The fifties had a lot of innovation in the entertainment department. Handheld
transistor radios were a man's best friend, and a brand new device known as
television was coming in full force to take over the living rooms of America.
While the television itself has become a staple of American culture,
the old television clicker, or better known as the remote has been easily
forgotten. But why has it? After all, every day millions of people use the
device to find their favorite television shows, and without it, some of
these people would just be plain old lost.
Pretty much everybody from the 1950's remembers turning the television
on and off, and changing the channels with the big old knobs that were
firmly attached to the television set. However many people do not
know that there were some television sets produced in the 1950's that
came with some kind of remote control that allowed the user to
comfortably sit on their couch or favorite chair and control their
television set without getting up.
Pretty much all of the remote controls for television sets of the
1950's came from the company Zenith Radio Corporation. Their very
first television remote came out in the very early 1950's, and was
known as the "lazy bone" remote. This remote control was connected to
the television through a cable Although it functioned very well,
many people did not like the fact that the remote was connected to the
television set. After all, if televisions were the wave of the
future, should not the remote control be from the future as well?
After Zenith Radio Corporation went back to the drawing board, they
came back in 1955 with a wireless remote known as the "Flashmatic".
This improved model allowed the user to turn the television on and
off, and change channels. It was known as the Flashmatic remote,
because when a button was pressed on the remote, the remote would
flash a beam of light towards the television set. A photoelectric
cell in the television set would then pick up the trail of light and
acknowledge the remote's action. Unfortunately, the photoelectric
cell would sometimes be hit by sunlight or other sources of light and
cause the television to randomly turn on and off.
A short year later, a man working for the Zenith Radio Corporation by
the name of Robert Adler came up with the perfect television remote
control solution. The new remote was given the name of "Zenith Space
Command" and is considered by many to be the first modern television
This remote control used no batteries, and instead worked by emitting
ultrasonic noises that were created when a person pushed a button
down, against a specific bar which created a specific frequency. The
pushing of the buttons created a "click" noise for the user, and thus
that it how television remotes became known as clickers.
Using the ultrasonic method, the "Zenith Space Command" television
remote was able to change channels and volume both up and down.
Because the remote control was wireless, and also because the remote
control operated effectively and without and troubles, the "Zenith
Space Command" television remote has become known as the first modern
clicker, as well as the grandfather to all TV remotes today. With
all this being said, one might wonder how we would be controlling our
television sets today if it wasn't for the great company known as Zenith.