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9

Zenith Flash-Matic, the First Wireless TV Remote

Once upon a time, there were no remote controls for television sets. Dads everywhere taught their children to change the channels so they could stay in their recliners and watch. I was put to work doing that at an extremely young age, and it wasn't hard to figure out what channel Dad wanted because we only had two. The first remote controls were connected to the set with wires. That was a floor hazard, though, and in 1955, a wireless remote hit the market. The Zenith Flash-Matic was a flashlight that you aimed at the front of your TV set. Really. The complicated bits were on the TV itself, which you can read about at Vintage Everyday.  -via Nag on the Lake


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Oh, but it's better than that!The first wireless remote wasn't optical....it was acoustic. And it was basically a little box with chimes in it, pitched to a range above audible....to the (male) engineers who designed it.
Now, these guys, after inventing it and being first m*f*ers on the planet with a g*d* remote control did EXACTLY what you'd expect a bunch of dudes with a remote control to do...they used the HELL out of it. TV goes on, TV goes off, TV goes on, TV goes off, channel goes up, channel goes down. For HOURS at a time.
UNTIL!Suddenly, a very irate woman from the next office over busts in and is like "If you jackasses don't stop that we're going to come over and murder stab you. We can't work."
Your engineers are all puzzled. What? Why? How is "lady folk messing with men just wanting to watch TV already a thing?"
"No, beacuse of at the damn noise"
<guys hesitantly turn down TV volume> "better?"
"No! The bells?"
"Bells?"
Turns out....the control tones were PLENTY audible to the ladies, and it was a constant stream of BING! BING! BING! every time they pushed a button, and of course it was driving them batty.
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I learned to use my feet to change the channel when my parents asked, so I wouldn't have to get up off the floor.
I remember seeing my first remote controlled TVs in the late 1970s. It was one of the ultrasonic ones like the Space Command shown here, with a hammer hitting small rods.
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