Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Fascinating Inventions No.10 - The Remote Control

Wallace and Gromit and the Patent Office are doing an invention competition for primary schools. I will be taking all the information into Mrs Trundle, the head-teacher and part-time assassin, tomorrow. Apparantly someone has already thought of a tiny ladder to let spiders climb out of the bath. Hmm, I say the drain is good enough for them. Grandpa Jack invented the horse-flap which is a bit like the cat-flap but bigger. He is mad on horses. The winning invention will be turned into a model for Aardman studios - Cool!

Talking of brilliant inventions, here's one - the TV remote control. Robert Adler was the fantastic inventor of the TV remote control. The Parents would probably say that this invention was one of the crimes against humanity because:
a. it makes watching the TV easier and so you watch even more of it than is good for you; in fact you watch it until you develope strange shaped eyes and all your brains are sucked out
b. it makes you lazier and fatter and unfit until one day you cannot move from the sofa to do anything, even when you lose the remote control through no fault of your own and have to endure hours of watching stuff you are not keen on, like The News and Gardening is Really Interesting or Schools Programme - Granny TimeTraveller reports from the Battle of Hastings

Anyway, Robert Adler would have said a and b were just silly because,
"It seems reasonable and rational to control the TV from where you normally sit and watch television."
Precisely. IF you have a choice of more than 4 channels that is - guess how many we have in our house. Imagine the huge strain involved in forever getting up and down to change the channels when (if you live in Dexter's house) you have 4 million channels to choose from. Nightmare.

In 1950 Zenith came up with the first TV remote called 'Lazy Bones'. It managed to change channels OK but was still attached to the TV by a cord. This was a bit mad because people kept tripping over it and breaking bits of themselves and their sitting rooms. So in 1955, Adler came up with the 'Flashmatic'. This had nothing attached to it and used photocells to flash at the TV. The problem was that when the sun came out it sort of stopped the light commands working. People complained that you could not watch TV in the daytime without having to get up with their legs and switch over by bending their bodies. So daytime TV did not really take off until a bit later after Robert Adler came up with the 'Space Command' remote, 'nothing between You and the Set but space!!!'
That is not to say that he spent his whole actual life inventing just the one gadget. Oh no. He worked for an American company called Zenith and actually made 180 new patents, mostly to do with TV, even though he did not even like the TV. He would have got on well with The Parents.
"I hardly ever turn the TV on," he said. His wife said he was "more of a reader."
I think that this could be because he just kept losing the remote control in the s p a c e between himself and the TV set. So it is left to me to invent the next greatest gadget -
'The Remote Control Detectormatic'


Richard said...

You've got to be impressed with someone who invents a product called 'Space Command'. How SciFi is that??

I hope he gave all his inventions suitably Star Wars-like names. :)

Susan Abraham said...

Hi Wilf,

...Mrs Trundle, the head-teacher and part-time assassin,...

(A truly clever description for Mrs. Trundle, I would think. I too agree that the telly remote control is one of the most brilliant things ever...any remote control for that matter.

btw, I don't think spiders would care for ladders as much as they would for pairs of teeny-weeny flip-flops! :-)

Saaleha said...

Imagine if there was a remote control to control parents. Hmmm, maybe you need to invent one WIlf.

Atyllah said...

I can think of all sorts of remote controls which might be useful to humanity- only I take the parents view on this - all that remote control will make porky humans lazier and porkier - just think, if they could, many would just turn into giant blobs aka oxygen thieves!

Wilf said...

I know, Richard, it is BRILLIANT isn't it?

Wilf said...

Flip-flops for spiders? What about suncream and little hats as well, Susan? Or maybe wellies would be better for english spiders and mini-mackintoshes. Will not help them out of the bath though.

Wilf said...

Baby children have built-in remote controls, Saleeha. From what I can see, Parents seem to respond quite well to screaming. Talking of which, I shall have to tell you about my Aunty Caroline and her visit with her remote control.

Wilf said...

I think giant blobs are quite interesting but only when they are alien giant blobs, threatening human life with being squashed or mashed. Otherwise, giant blobs are just a bit disgusting and I deifintiely do not want one in the sitting room.

Susan Abraham said... isn't summer yet, is it, Wilf.
I thought my idea was pretty brilliant too but it looks like NOT!
Well, stick to your climby old ladders then...


Jude said...

Remote controls are fab. Seen the film where someone is able to control people using a remote? Robin Williams is in it, I think. Look it up Wilf. You might like it!

Wilf said...

I like the idea of this Robin Williams film, but actually Dr Who has done it already with several different species.