Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 15th May 2007 17:37 UTC
Geek stuff, sci-fi... "Ever since the remote control's co-inventor Robert Adler passed away [in March], I've wanted to own one of the first remote controls. After trolling through eBay every now and then, I finally have in my hands a piece of the history of the button. But there's a mystery: which piece?" Entertainingly written piece on the world's first remote controls. I totally enjoy the simplicity of the ultrasonic remote: "All these early remotes are purely mechanical. No batteries at all. When you push the button, a small hammer strikes an aluminum rod, triggering a sound above our hearing range that's picked up by the TV. Each rod is a different length, thus a different frequency, thus distinguishable by the TV." Brilliant.
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Energy independence
by halfmanhalfamazing on Tue 15th May 2007 18:05 UTC
halfmanhalfamazing
Member since:
2005-07-23

They should bring back the battery-less remote.

It's funny, I hear this will save energy..... that will save energy.........

I think it's all gone into the realm of ludicrousness but what the heck! You know, valentines day flowers cause GW, so do cows. Let's work on the TV remote next!

Someone should commission a study. How much energy would be saved if only we had self sufficient TV remotes!

Edited 2007-05-15 18:06

Reply Score: 3

I'd forgotten!
by sbergman27 on Tue 15th May 2007 18:10 UTC
sbergman27
Member since:
2005-07-24

My grandmother used to have one of these. I'm pretty sure it was a Zenith Space Command. (psst! psst!) It also had a neat quick start feature that kept the tubes warmed up. I enabled it. I probably shouldn't have done that. And when I enabled that "custom" feature of her window unit air conditioner, so that the fan was variable speed, I think it confused her a good bit, looking back on the matter.

For someone who didn't "get" new-fangled technology, she certainly had a lot of it.

But the remote did benefit her.

After a long hard day working the the garden (More of a jungle, really. Peas, tomatoes, garlic, figs, persimmons(!), corn, zucchini, okra, cucumbers... a bunch of stuff I've forgotten or didn't recognize, with an old water cooled air conditioning cooling tower in the middle... all in a Dallas back yard, and much of it considerably taller than a 7 year old) she certainly did enjoy her "Television Programs".

"The Lawrence Welk Program" was one of her favorites.

Sorry to drag you down my own memory lane like this, but it is *sort of* on topic for this story, right? ;-)

Edited 2007-05-15 18:12

Reply Score: 4

RE: I'd forgotten!
by DoctorPepper on Tue 15th May 2007 18:13 UTC in reply to "I'd forgotten!"
DoctorPepper Member since:
2005-07-12

Hehehe. Sounds so much like when I grew up in South Carolina, back in the 60's and 70's. :-)

Not so much the remote control (that was mine and my brother's job!), just the "jungle" and the heat, and Lawrence Welk.

Thanks for the stroll down memory lane!

Edited 2007-05-15 18:14

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: I'd forgotten!
by sbergman27 on Tue 15th May 2007 18:50 UTC in reply to "RE: I'd forgotten!"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

"""
Hehehe. Sounds so much like when I grew up in South Carolina, back in the 60's and 70's. :-)
"""

Sounds like we're about the same age. ;-)

If you liked that, do please read Jonathan Schwartz's blog for today and click on the "I Dream of Jeannie" bottle!

http://blogs.sun.com/jonathan/entry/what_we_did

-Steve

Edited 2007-05-15 18:57

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: I'd forgotten!
by DoctorPepper on Tue 15th May 2007 19:05 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: I'd forgotten!"
DoctorPepper Member since:
2005-07-12

I'd buy one of them... But only if Jeannie came in it! :-)

I will turn 48 in August. I still don't feel like an "old man" yet, except for days when my back bothers me. Like today.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: I'd forgotten!
by sbergman27 on Tue 15th May 2007 19:13 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: I'd forgotten!"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

They're pricey. But worth it if they come with the harem sofa and the throw pillows. :-)

44 here, btw.

Edited 2007-05-15 19:18

Reply Score: 2

Michael
Member since:
2005-07-01

Now's the time to dump it on ebay!

The design is pure genius. And check out the shiny chrome styling on the later models. Sweet.

Leaves me wondering if I could hack something up to control my PC this way... (note to self: need a better mic.)

Reply Score: 2

Magic
by dimosd on Tue 15th May 2007 20:02 UTC
dimosd
Member since:
2006-02-10

There's something magic about ancient cutting edge technology. Me likes :-)

Reply Score: 3

RE: Magic
by sbergman27 on Tue 15th May 2007 20:16 UTC in reply to "Magic"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

"""
There's something magic about ancient cutting edge technology.
"""

Not to mention ancient security exploits.

The family of a friend of mine had one of these ultrasonically remote-controlled TV sets, made somewhat later than my grandmother's TV which I've already mentioned.

We discovered that if we dropped our keyrings on the hardwood floor in just the right way, we could make it change channels without the hand-held remote. :-)

Cheap thrills, I know. But thrills, nonetheless. :-)

Edited 2007-05-15 20:19

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Magic
by irbis on Tue 15th May 2007 20:52 UTC in reply to "RE: Magic"
irbis Member since:
2005-07-08

"We discovered that if we dropped our keyrings on the hardwood floor in just the right way, we could make it change channels without the hand-held remote."

That's not a security exploit, it's a useful feature ;) It could prove useful if, for example, someone else of your family is holding the remote controller and you don't like the channel and program he's watching...

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Magic
by sbergman27 on Tue 15th May 2007 21:05 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Magic"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

"""
That's not a security exploit, it's a useful feature ;) It could prove useful if, for example, someone else of your family is holding the remote controller and you don't like the channel and program he's watching...
"""

During the 70's and 80's I would have agreed. But in this spyware and virus infested world, can you imagine the effect of such an exploit upon, say, the incidence of tinnitus? ;-P

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Magic
by dimosd on Tue 15th May 2007 21:37 UTC in reply to "RE: Magic"
dimosd Member since:
2006-02-10

We discovered that if we dropped our keyrings on the hardwood floor in just the right way, we could make it change channels without the hand-held remote.

Damn hackers :-)

Edited 2007-05-15 21:38

Reply Score: 1

RE:RE[4]: I'd forgotten!
by helf on Tue 15th May 2007 20:05 UTC
helf
Member since:
2005-07-06

Old farts ;-) I'm just 19...

my great grandmother had one of these. I remember messing with it when I was 6 or 7... I can't believe it and the TV still worked, now that I think about how old it was.

Browser: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows 95; PalmSource; Blazer 3.0) 16;160x160

Reply Score: 2

UhOh!
by Gadget on Tue 15th May 2007 21:13 UTC
Gadget
Member since:
2005-10-21

We discovered that if we dropped our keyrings on the hardwood floor in just the right way, we could make it change channels without the hand-held remote.

You are surely in for it now. You violated the DCMA and are subject to criminal prosecution. I'm sure the manufacturer suffered unestimated losses due to your hack of their valuable IP.

LOL

Reply Score: 5

RE: Magic
by randy7376 on Wed 16th May 2007 01:27 UTC
randy7376
Member since:
2005-08-08

We had one of these Space Command remotes that went with our Zenith console television.

We also had a little dog that slept in a green bean bag chair next to this TV (hey, it was the 70's!). She had about three tags on her collar, and like the keys dropped on the floor, when she would get up and shake around, the TV would change channels, change volume, and/or turn off.

This was especially entertaining at 3:00am when she would shake, make the TV come on, and we'd all get awakened by either the test tone or lots of static blaring out of the speaker!

Ah! Those were the days! ;)

Reply Score: 3

EisBlade
Member since:
2007-02-07

41 here. TV's that needed time to warm up, with knob or push-button selectors. The 70's had all the good clean shows.

I Dream Of Jeannie...what a hottie she was.

The Gong Show.

Marian on Gilligans Island...whewwww.

Charlie's Angels. (go Kate!)

The Maud Squad. (sp?)

Ironside

All In The Family.

The Bionic Man, Mr. Steve Austin

Dick VanDyke

Wow. Hehehehe...

Reply Score: 1

Battery-less electronic version, Shirely?
by burnttoy on Wed 16th May 2007 13:01 UTC
burnttoy
Member since:
2006-07-28

I like the transmission method! Very clever although the local bats might not like it. However, the transmission method is not the point.

The reason it was battery-less was because it derived the energy needed for transmitting a signal directly from the user kinetically and transformed it for transmission.

How much energy do you get from doing that click and would it be enough to power a radio transmitter to broadcast a fixed multi bit message?

Reply Score: 1