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The Real History of Remote Controls

August 13, 2014 By Jon Sienkiewicz
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Remote control devices began appearing on the earth shortly after the end of the Great Ice Age, about 10,000 years B.C. (Before Cable). Scholars speculate that they did not appear earlier because coffee tables had not been invented yet. Besides, there wasn’t much on satellite, anyway.

Cave drawings throughout Europe depict early humanoids dragging large remotes behind them. At first, archeologists thought the objects were clubs or some sort of prehistoric weapon, but careful analysis of the paintings clearly revealed FCC Approval tickers. Early models were single button because Paleolithic men and women could not use their thumbs the way we do today—which probably explains why no Blackberry messages from that epoch have survived.

Believe it or not, back in the day, some people thought remote controls were just accessories. Even if they’d had an expensive Cave Entertainment System installed, they’d pinch pennies and buy a control unit that could not easily access all of the features of their equipment. What a waste. What’s worse, they often ended up with remotes that were so primitive that they didn’t allow customization, and didn’t make it possible for every member of the family to enjoy simple things like watching videos or listening to music. Yep, real dinosaurs.

Worst of all, when folks from a neighboring clan dropped in to watch a movie, our frugal Stone Age ancestors felt ridiculous because they couldn’t make everything work together. Even though they’d cashed out some of their equity to pay for the system, they couldn’t show it off to their friends. Instead, they pretended that the DVD player had been eaten by a predator, or something like that. All because they had a crummy remote they didn’t know how to operate.

As you can imagine, this caused family squabbles of mammoth proportion. If you’ve ever seen a drawing of a Neanderthal dragging his missus by her hair and wondered what that was all about, now you know: they were arguing about the cheap remote control. Later, when humans discovered fire, finished melting all of the glaciers, and moved into the Bronze Age, remote controls became more sophisticated. Although it was still necessary to have a separate remote for each device, some began using Radio Frequency (which, come to think of it, wasn’t being used for anything else at the time, anyway).

 

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