Photograph by Advertising Archive/Everett Collection
Zenith Flash-Matic Remote (1955)
Prime time television may have had only three channels, but even in 1955 people didn't want to get off the sofa to change the station. One of the first commercial remotes, the Flash-Matic, switched channels by connecting to four photocells, one in each corner of the TV screen. Viewers used a directional flashlight to activate the four control functions, which turned picture and sound on and off and turned the channel tuner dial clockwise and counter-clockwise.