The classic TV remote controls are often underestimated and under-appreciated — and that goes for all the technology that’s included in them. Everyone is fawning over digital TV remote controls and universal apps for smartphones and tablets, but we’re forgetting that the TV remote control isn’t as simple as a little icon on a phone. It took a long time for television remote controls to get where they are today, and we should all take a moment of silence, preceded by a small history lesson, to show some appreciation for the wondrous TV remote controls.
First of all, infrared technology — a low-level light ray that can’t be detected by the human eye but can be detected by the TV set — was a long time in the making. Considering that the very first TV remote controls weren’t even wireless, and that the next replacement remotes for TVs used photo cells to communicate with TV sets, rendering the remote control useless if too much sunlight got in between the remote and the TV, it’s pretty impressive that infrared technology was discovered and implemented so easily.
Granted, it took about 30 years for the television engineers to move from the cable wire remote controls to remotes with infrared signals, but once infrared technology hit the remote control industry, life was never the same.
Tons of different devices are controlled with infrared remotes today — the most popular being TV sets, but runners-up being electronic devices like stereos, DVD players, and even coffeemakers. The average American family has about three remote controls in their homes today, and that number is only continuing to grow.
Unlike most of its predecessors — and a few of its successors — the classic infrared remote is completely safe and doesn’t have any dangerous pieces inside. Definitely a big improvement from the wired TV remote controls in the 1950s, which caused one too many embarrassing living room disasters and were literally as effective as military-grade trip wires (maybe).
It’s all pretty cool, right? Now here’s your assignment: the next time you’re watching a TV show and you mute the volume when a commercial comes on, take those few minutes of silence to thank the remote control heavens that you didn’t have to get up from your couch to do so. For more information see this.
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