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October 8, 2015

I love my remote control. Thank you Nikola Tesla!

by Bob Sassone, posted Jul 4th 2005 3:02PM

Zenith Space CommandI have a theory that one of the big reasons this country has gotten increasingly fat over the past four decades isn't because of high carbs or high fat or giant portions of food. It's because we're so remote control crazy! Remember the days (and anyone under 25 probably doesn't) when we actually had to get up from our couches and change the channel on our televisions? Or turn the volume up or down or adjust the vertical hold (for those under 25, vertical hold wasn't a hair product)? I won't even get into rabbit ears.

Anyway, I didn't know that Nikola Tesla actually had a U.S. patent for a remote control-like device in 1898! The big leap in the technology came in the 1950s, when Zenith created a remote control that attached to the TV by a long wire. Then, in 1956, Robert Adler created the Zenith Space Command, the worlds' first wireless remote. And quite possibly the coolest name for a remote control ever made. 


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I remember using the wired controller to trip my sister. I also remember throwing the wireless controller at my sister, the controller hitting a wall and breaking into a million peices. We managed to put it back to gether, but strangely it never worked right after that.

July 05 2005 at 12:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm of that 20-something generation and I didn't have a TV with a remote until high school. My parents just didn't see the point. I find this odd, since my dad grew up with Zenith TVs with the space command remotes. He once told me that when he lost the remote he could switch channels by jingling his belt buckle. I guess it generated the same frequency. I have a feeling it wasn't too accurate, though.

July 05 2005 at 10:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We actually had a Zenith with an ultrasonic remote (aka Space Command) when I was a kid. It was so sweet, all of 6 buttons: power, channel up/down, volume up/down, and mute. And I think there was wood grain on the *remote*, the better to match with the TV cabinet. And, yes, being the science nerd I am, I kept trying to freak out hamsters and dogs and whatnot with the remote. I guess the ultrasonic signal was too weak.

July 04 2005 at 4:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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