Couch potatoes everywhere can pause and thank Eugene Polley for hours of feet-up channel surfing. His invention, the first wireless TV remote, began as a luxury, but with the introduction of hundreds of channels and viewing technologies it has become a necessity…
In 1955, if you wanted to switch TV channels from “Arthur Godfrey” to “Father Knows Best,” you got up from your chair, walked across the room and turned a knob. Clunk. Clunk. Clunk.
Or you could buy a new Zenith television with Flash-Matic tuning. The TV came with a green ray gun-shaped contraption with a red trigger. The advertising promised “TV miracles.” The “flash tuner” was “Absolutely harmless to humans!” Most intriguing of all: “You can even shut off annoying commercials while the picture remains on the screen.”
Good read from the Associated Press about the history of the remote control upon the death of its inventor, Eugene Polley. What’s more, look at what the OG flipper looked like:
Well that’s just awesome. Obviously we need more than one button now, but I would gladly give up a little bit of convenience for a remote control that looks what people thought the future would look like in the 1950s.
Also, we never had a remote control in my house growing up. Not until I was a teenager at least. I guess we lost the one that came with the TV we had, and for whatever reason we were the only family on the block whose cable ran direct into the TV instead of through the cable box, so we couldn’t use one of those ubiquitous little black box Cablevision remotes that everyone else had.
With those, though, the big gag on our block was to take one and go change the channel on this one guy’s TV while he was watching it. His son hung out with my brother, so a lot of times it was his own damn remote. His armchair sat right in front of a huge window in his backyard, so it was real easy to creep up behind him with the remote and turn on PBS or whatever. And he’d have to get up to change it, so then obviously as soon as he sat down you change it again. And so on, until he figures it out and gets all pissed and turns around and starts slamming on the window and you run like hell.