Economic Impact of The Television Remote Control

As I tried to nap this afternoon my thoughts turned to the television remote and I pondered the thought that no invention has made my life (and every other guy’s) easier than this item. I am ignoring the sit down lawn mower I got two years ago.

On the other hand, I don’t recall that I had any great problem back in the 60s when we only had less than a handful of choices to click to.

This led me to suggest that if the TV remote had never been invented that there wouldn’t be the hundreds of viewing choices that we have today. Its easy to come to that conclusion from the perspective of today, because television is generally so boring yet addictive to me and the thought of channel surfing by getting up would be intolerable yet I can’t draw a credible scenario of the TV remoteless market attempting to add stations and failing. Any thoughts ?

Nah, as long as people were still having children, they could get by without remotes. It’s the kids’ job to stand by the TV turning the channels for mom and dad until they find something to watch, right?

At least, that was my job. And I’m not talking about switching between 3 networks and PBS. I’m talking when we had 40 channels of cable and no remote. The cable box had a switch that slid back and forth across the length of the box and had to be moved manually. It did have a “remote,” consisting of (I swear I am not making this up) a string that attached to the slider that you could pull from across the room, but it didn’t work well at all. So I was the remote. The cable company had a box with a real remote available, but it was an extra five bucks or so a month, and my dad figured why pay that when you’ve got kids?

When I was a kid we had a set-top box with something like 25 buttons on it and a switch with I think four or five stops, allowing 100 or more channels to be selected. Admittedly, there weren’t that many channels to be had at the time, but with the quantity avalable we managed just fine with no remote. You’d just stand by the TV and channel surf until you found your show, and then go sit down for a half hour or hour or whatever until you wanted to change to something else.