As I’ve mentioned before, I wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child. However I do remember the television set my parents owned when I was little: it was only black and white, the screen was probably smaller than my current laptop, and it had (get this) a KNOB to change the channels.
That’s right, if you wanted to watch one of the other four stations we got at the time, you had to GET UP and manually adjust the set.
Now, my partner and I have a big flat screen TV that weighs a fraction of that old tube set, hooked up to an Xbox that allows us to change the channel with voice command. Craziness. But how did we get from knobs to spoken words? Via the remote control.
Although remote control devices have been around since the late 1800s, it wasn’t until the 1950s that they became common home appliance. The early ones had cords! By the 1980s remote controls employed infrared signals that allowed for my more precise controls, and are still in use today.
But are we really better off because of the invention of the remote control? There are some who would say no. After all, the very notion behind the remote signals a general laziness and apathy that now permeate our culture. We’re flabbergasted by the notion that we might have to put physical effort into anything we do. As a result we’re fat, sick, and depressed. We don’t even appreciate the miracle of what’s happening when we use a universal remote: we just curse at it for having too many buttons. There’s also some evidence that remote control’s encouraged a sort of cultural ADD, where we’re never content to choose a show and see how it goes. Instead we’re constantly channel surfing, flipping back and forth rapidly in an attempt to watch two, or maybe even three shows at once.
And once we had the ability to control things remotely, it opened up an entirely new brand of technology that could operate without direct human contact. Thiswas immediately scooped up by the military with dreams of drone warfare, which have now come true.
Scroll through the infographic below to learn more. Then let us know whether you agree that “remote control led to the downfall of society.”
Infographic by Pannam