Television History - The First 75 Years
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Remote Controls for Television

Early in the 1950s it was apparent that no one really liked to get up and down out of the easy chair over and over each evening to change channels on the TV set!  Any baby boomer will remember those early days when Mom and Dad had us 'kids' change channels for them.  There had to be a better solution.  

Early Remotes
One example of an early remote was a small hand-held unit for a 1948 Garod TV set (model 10TZ20), which was called a "Telezoom", it only enlarged the picture with the press of a button, and did not change channels, or anything else, for that matter.  All of the early remotes were wired to the TV set, usually with a 20 foot long cable (wire).

Zenith quickly established itself as the leader in the design and development of the TV remote control.  A 1950 magazine advertisement (shown below) announced proudly that to have "..Complete automatic program selection in the palm of your hand.... from anywhere in the room..... [was].... Another Zenith First!"

1950 Zenith Wired Remote.JPG (324160 bytes) (324K)
1950 Zenith Remote Ad -- Notice the wire that runs on the floor between the TV set and the people watching it.

The first WIRELESS remote control, which used a beam of light aimed at one of the sensors on the four corners of the picture tube, was the Zenith "Flash-matic", released in late 1955, as a built-in, (non-accessory) feature for several 1956 Zenith models.  With this wonderful device you were now able to:

1) Turn the TV 'On' or 'Off'
2) Change the channels
3) Mute the sound "of those long annoying commercials" !

1956 Zenith Remote Ad.JPG (119299 bytes) (119K)
1955 Zenith Remote Ad -- Totally wireless control

Shown below is a real-life example of the Zenith "Fash-matic" remote, which sold on ebay for several hundred dollars more than a year ago!

1955 Zenith Flash-matic Remote.JPG (81618 bytes) (82K)
1956 Zenith "Flash-matic" Remote Control - The granddaddy of the 'clickers'

Visit Richard Heierling's Web Page
 about the Zenith Flashmatic Remote

Of course, remotes got better in design, year after year.  Here are two more Zenith advertisements from the late 1950s:

1958 Zenith Ad-Remote.JPG (244948 bytes) (245K)
1957 Zenith Remote Ad

1957 Zentih Ad-Remote1.JPG (253204 bytes) (253K)
1958 Zenith Remote Ad


1955 Remote Controls  (100K bytes) (100K)
"Remote Control for TV"

1955 Sentinel Remote  (65K bytes) (65K)
"Sentinel" Remote Control

1955 WALSCO Remote Control  (85K bytes) (85K)
"Walsco" Remote Control

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