Three Remote Control Designs That Went the Way of the Dinosaurs

May 27, 2014 by - Panasonic replacement remotes, Replacement remote controls

Samsung tv remotes

Could you imagine having to go to your local electronics store and buying a TV remote controls replacement with a wire? Or a TV remote replacement that didn’t work on sunny days because the sunlight would randomly change the channel? It sounds like a detail from the Twilight Zone, but it took a few tries before TV manufacturers got television remote controls technology right.

These might sound strange, but here are a few forerunners of the modern remote controls for TV.

Lazy Bone.

Back in 1950, the Zenith Radio Corporation created the “Lazy Bone”–the world’s very first television remote controls set. All it could do was change the channels and turn the TV on or off. What modern TV viewers might find most interesting about the Lazy Bone is that it wasn’t actually wireless. A large cable connected Lazy Bone television remote controls to their sets, which caused people to frequently trip.


Eugene Polley, an engineer with Zenith, then created the “Flash-matic” five years later, which was the first wireless television remote controls set. It used light to communicate with the TV, telling it to turn off or on and change the channel. However, the sunlight would then sometimes change the channels randomly.

Space Command.

Just a year later, the “Space Command” television remote controls started to be mass produced. These used ultrasonic waves–clicking noises–to turn the TV on or off, and to change the channel and volume. Though the first versions of these television remote controls were bulky, manufacturers were eventually able to slim them down.

The Space Command model of television remote controls worked so well that they remained the most dominated design for over 25 years, until the infrared television remote controls we still use today supplanted them.

Nothing is perfect, and most devices usually need to go through a few transformation before they do what they’re supposed. For the TV remote, it took a few different designs, and about six years. Thankfully for us modern viewers, we’ll never know the struggle of tripping over the remote or having the channel change on a sunny day. Read more blogs like this.

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