Adoption and Impact

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]The public welcomed the new technology.  Within the first year, Zenith sold more remotes than they had in the previous year when they sold around 30 million.[1] The early remote controls were very expensive and could only work one television set.  This caused the need for the public to have to purchase a remote control for every television, or buy a new set that came with a new pre-programmed remote.  Now universal remote controls are becoming very popular.[2] Not only do universal remotes work on multiple television sets, but also they operate numerous devices.  Remotes control many different devices in and around the home, they can help lock or unlock car doors, serve as garage door openers, lights, gas fireplaces, toys and several other household items as well.  Without remote controls, many video games would also not be possible.  All these different remotes use the same basic technology that started with Eugene Polley’s basic idea.

In 2006, in the United States alone, there were an estimated 500million television remote control units being used at any given time.  That number is equal to twice the population of the US.[3] The culture behind the remote control has helped lead to the idea of the lazy American, or the couch potato.  Remote controls are such a large part of our everyday lives that many Americans do not even realize that they are everywhere.  Children at a very young age are taught to use a remote control, and pictures of toddlers holding remotes are seen as cute.  Special toddler remotes or “WeeMotes” are designed to allow parents to program approved stations into a remote for their toddler to use. Touch screen universal remotes are now more and more common.  New TV remotes can be programed to do just about anything and can even track and remember what the view does.  The television remote control has made TV an important aspect of daily lives for many Americans.  Remotes are so common that they are everywhere.  What started as having to get up to turn on the televison changed into needing a remote control to do most aspects of daily life.

[1] Picariello, Gary. “The History of the Television Remote Control.” (accessed February 10, 2009).

[2] Phil Ament, “Remote Control History.” (accessed February 9, 2009).

[3] Picariello, Gary. “The History of the Television Remote Control.” (accessed February 10, 2009)

YouTube, “First TV Remote RCA Wireless Wizard Does it All!.” YouTube Website, Embedded Media File, (accessed April 12, 2009)

Top Image From:  New Universal Remotes – touch screen. (accessed March 14, 2009)

Bottom Image From:  Image of a toddler remote control. (accessed March 12, 2009)

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