While recent years have taught humanity about the possibility and benefits of working remotely, different forms of remote controls have existed for over a century. Today, these devices are significant to our daily activities, making even the thought of living without them unbearable. Here, we discuss some amazing remote control facts you probably didn’t know.

1. Zenith Radio Corporation Developed the First TV Remote Control

In 1950, Zenith Radio Corporation designed the first remote control for television use. The remote named Lazy Bones was connected to the TV by a wire. Sold at $30 extra, the remote had only two buttons with limited functionality. Five years later, Eugene Polley, an electrical engineer and engineering manager for Zenith Electronics, invented the first wireless television remote control, the Flashmatic.

2. TV Remote Control Was Invented Because of a Dislike for Commercials

After the invention of the Lazy Bones remote control in 1950, the Blab-off followed in 1952. The wired device had the sound on and off buttons to help viewers avoid listening to commercials.

3. Leaching out of Silicone Oil Can Cause the Remote Control to Malfunction

Modern remote controls have different parts, one of them being silicon oil. Experts note that when this silicone oil leaches, the remote control’s buttons usually malfunction, making the device less responsive. It is one of the major reasons why remote controls become less effective.

4. Steve Wozniak Created the First Universal Remote Control

Even with the development of wireless remote controls, there was still a problem; the devices could only operate specific brands and appliances. In the 1980s, Apple’s Steve Wozniak created the first universal remote control – it could manage multiple devices. This was a huge step, considering the remote control could be linked to a computer and loaded with relevant software.

5. Two Indian Brothers Hold the Record for the Biggest TV Remote Control

Measuring a whopping 4.5 meters (over 14 ft.), two Indian brothers, Suraj and Rajesh Kumar Meher, hold the record for creating the largest working television remote control. It is 23 times larger than the average TV remote control, has 37 giant rubber buttons and is strong enough to hold the weight equivalent to a five-year-old’s. The record was verified in Sambalpur, India, in 2015.

6. A Lost Remote Control Affected Transportation for Years in Ireland

Ireland once built a bridge that relied on a remote control to swing open or close depending on the travelers’ needs. It would open for the ships and boats to sail, then close for road users to cross the water body. However, when someone lost its remote control, the bridge couldn’t open for about four years, causing massive inconvenience to the transport industry in the region.

7. Most TV Remote Controls Use Infrared Light

Initially, remote controls were connected to the devices they controlled using a wire. With time, the first wireless remote control was developed. The device relied on ultrasound, which had limitations, to change the channels or volume. Today, most of these devices use infrared light, invisible to the human eye.

8. Different Types of Types of Remote Controls Are Available Today

Besides TV remote controls, which rely on infrared light for transmission, we have several others, including radio frequency (RF), Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, voice-controlled, and touchpad remotes. Each type has specific functions and offers a unique use experience.

9. Ultrasound Remote Controls Had Interesting Features

Even though they are hardly used today, ultrasound remote controls (designed in the 1950s) had interesting features. For instance, the devices produced ultrasonic sounds when their buttons were pressed because they didn’t have batteries or any other electricity.

The television sets would then pick up these sounds and respond accordingly. Interestingly, if someone jiggled their keys correctly, the TV channel would change, much to the annoyance of the person holding the remote. These set of remote controls were famously known as “clickers.”

10. Remote Controls Are Critical In Different Fields

During the mediaeval times, nobody knew or cared about remote controls. Other than opening garage doors, barriers, and gates today, remote controls are essential for photography, video games, PC control, space exploration, military, and TV navigation.

11. You Can See Remote Control Infrared Light Using a Cellphone

While infrared light is invisible to the naked human eye, a good cellphone camera can detect these beams perfectly. The technique is sometimes used to diagnose faulty remote controls.

12. Nikola Tesla Tricked a Crowd into Believing They Could Shout Commands at a Toy Boat

In 1898, Nikola Tesla had just invented a radio remote control and was eager to use it. He convinced a crowd that they could control a toy boat just by shouting commands. Many fell for this trick because Tesla controlled the boat using his radio remote control, leading them to believe they did.

13. The Initial TV Remote Control Resembled a Flashlight

The first wireless TV remote control resembled a flashlight or a ray gun. Given TV commercials were one of the reasons remote controls were invented in the first place, viewers almost literally “shot” them down.

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Last Update: November 8, 2023