Skip to content


Your cart is empty

Article: All About Replacement Remote Control Devices: Part 2

All About Replacement Remote Control Devices: Part 2

All About Replacement Remote Control Devices: Part 2

On our first blog, we have discussed almost everything about remote control and tackled all possible details. We have summarized most of what we should know, from what it is to its quick history, how it works, and its pros and cons.

“What’s Remote Control? A remote control system uses radio or electrical signals to control a machine or vehicle from a distance. A replacement, generic, or universal remote is a remote control that can be configured to control a variety of consumer electronics products.”

In this second article, we’ll dig deeper and understand more about remote controls. Let’s start with how it all started. The history of TV remote controls.

A remote control (sometimes called a remote or a clicker) is an electronic device that allows you to control another item from a distance, typically wirelessly. A remote control in consumer electronics can be used to control devices like televisions, DVD players, and other digital home media appliances. A remote control can be used to operate items that are too far away to be controlled directly. They work best when utilized at a short distance. This is mostly a convenience function for the user. In certain circumstances, remote controls enable a person to operate a device that they would otherwise be unable to access, such as when a garage door opener is activated from the outside.


Credits to: Greenfield, Rebecca (April 8, 2011). "Tech Etymology: TV Clicker". The Atlantic. Retrieved August 1, 2020.

By any chance, do you wonder what television is? Here’s a simple explanation what television is, before we proceed to the next part…

A television set, also known as a television receiver, is an electrical device used to see and hear television broadcasts or as a computer display. It features a tuner, a display, and loudspeakers. Television sets, which were first introduced in the late 1920s in mechanical form, became a popular consumer product after World War II when they were converted to electronic form utilizing cathode ray tube (CRT). The introduction of color to broadcast television after 1953 boosted the popularity of television sets in the 1960s, and an external antenna became a standard feature of suburban homes. In the 1970s, the omnipresent television set became the display device for the first recorded media for consumer usage, such as Betamax and VHS, which were subsequently succeeded by DVD. It has been used as a display device since the 1980s, when the first generation of home computers (such as the Timex Sinclair 1000) and specialized video game consoles (such as the Atari) were introduced. By the early 2010s, flat-panel televisions with liquid-crystal display (LCD) technology, particularly LED-backlit LCD technology, had largely replaced CRT and other display technologies. Modern flat-panel TVs are typically capable of high-definition displays (720p, 1080i, 1080p, 4K, and 8K) and can also play content from a USB device. Starting in the late 2010s, most flat-panel TVs began to support 4K and 8K resolutions.

Now, let’s find out how it all started.

In 1950, Zenith Radio Corporation created the first remote control meant to operate a television. There was a cable connecting the TV to the Lazy Bones remote control. Eugene Polley created a wireless remote control in 1955, called the Flashmatic. It functioned by projecting a light beam onto one of four photoelectric cells; however, the cell was unable to discriminate between light coming from external sources and light coming from the remote. To function, the Flashmatic also needed to be aimed extremely precisely at one of the sensors.

Zenith Space Command was a wireless remote control that Robert Adler created in 1956. The channel and volume could be adjusted using ultrasonic technology, and it was mechanical. These devices were sometimes referred to as "clickers," as they worked similarly to a pluck and clicked when the user pressed a button on the remote control. Channel-up, channel-down, sound-on/off, and power-on/off signals were all translated into noises by the television's circuits, which were sensitive to the fundamental frequencies and ultrasonic harmonics released by each of the four bars.

Subsequently, cheaper electronic remote controls with a piezoelectric crystal supplied by an oscillating electric current at a frequency close to or beyond the maximum range of human hearing—a sound that is still detectable to dogs—were made possible by the quick drop in the price of transistors. A microphone in the receiver was connected to a circuit that was set to the same frequency. A few issues with this technique were that some people could hear the lower ultrasonic harmonics, and the receiver may be inadvertently activated by noises found in nature or intentionally by metal hitting glass, for example.

Metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) memory and digital signals were used in an all-electronic remote control that RCA unveiled in 1970. For color television, this was commonly used in place of motor-driven tuning controls.

The BBC's creation of the Ceefax teletext service in 1973 provided the catalyst for the development of a more sophisticated kind of television remote control. At that time, the majority of commercial remote controllers only offered three functions—the next channel, the previous channel, and volume/off. The requirements of Teletext sets, whose pages were designated by three-digit numbers, were not satisfied by this kind of management. To choose Teletext pages, a remote control would require buttons for each of the 10 numbers, in addition to other controls like text-to-picture switching and standard television settings like volume, channel, brightness, color intensity, etc.

When Teletext first came out, page selection was done with wired remote controllers. However, the constant usage of the remote control to operate Teletext soon made a wireless device necessary. So, in 1977 or 1978, BBC engineers started having discussions with one or two television makers, which resulted in early prototypes that were capable of controlling a lot more functions. Among the businesses was ITT, which went on to name the infrared communication protocol after it.

The Starcom Cable TV Converter, made by Jerrold Electronics, a branch of General Instrument, was the most widely used remote control in 1980. It changed channels using sound waves at 40 kHz. Afterwards, engineer Paul Hrivnak founded Viewstar, Inc. in Canada, where he began manufacturing a cable TV converter equipped with an infrared remote control. The device was offered at about $190 CAD through Philips. With 1.6 million sold by 1989, the Viewstar converter became an instant hit, with the millionth one being sold on March 21, 1985.

The quantity of consumer electronics in most households had significantly expanded by the early 2000s, as had the number of remote controls needed to operate them. An average US home has four remote controls, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. Up to five or six remote controls may be needed to operate a home theater, including one for each of the following: TV, DVD player, cable or satellite receiver, VCR, and digital video recorder (DVR/PVR). It might be necessary to utilize many of these remotes in order for some services or programs to function effectively. But because there are no widely acknowledged interface standards, the procedure gets more and more difficult.

The universal remote, which is a remote control preprogrammed with the operating codes for the majority of popular brands of TVs, DVD players, etc., is one way to minimize the number of remotes that need to be used. Many smartphone manufacturers started adding infrared emitters to their models in the early 2010s, which allowed users to use the smartphones as universal remotes by downloading or installing an app.

TV watchers used to have to lumber over to their TVs in order to use circular turns or buttons to adjust the station and volume.

Naturally, using a remote goes beyond simply changing channels. There are certain ways that remote controllers are making us more productive and adventurous than in the past.

Several things that would be challenging, if not impossible, for humans to accomplish have been made feasible via remote controls. And despite their lengthy existence, remotes are far from extinct. We'll probably need remotes to keep things in order as we continue to integrate technology into every part of our lives.

Visit Doug’s Dojo!
Check us out at

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

All comments are moderated before being published.

Read more

TV Replacement Remotes: Unsung Heroes
electronic device

TV Replacement Remotes: Unsung Heroes

Have you ever heard of those unsung heroes? TV replacement remotes are one of those overlooked, unsung heroes of our living rooms. Often forgotten in the broad scheme of home entertainment is th...

Read more
All About Replacement Remote Control Devices: Part 1
electronic device

All About Replacement Remote Control Devices: Part 1

What is a remote control? A remote control system is a device that uses radio, infrared light, visible light, radio waves, cables, fiber optics, soundwaves, or electrical signals to operate a machi...

Read more