In Control

It’s happened to all of us: it’s a lazy Sunday afternoon, you’ve got nothing to do, nowhere to be, you’re just enjoying the moment, when suddenly – BAM! – it hits you. A change must be made now! Your eyes scan the room, desperately searching for the one thing that can save you. It seems like you just had it within reach; how could you have let it slip away? And then you see it. There it is, staring back at you, taunting you, bringing tears to your eyes. So close, yet so far away. As the white noise that has become your life drones on, you realize there’s only one way to save yourself. As if in a dream, you put one foot on the ground, then the other. You stand up, you take a few steps–this is worse than you ever could have imagined. Finally, you lean over and pick it up. A sense of awe floods over you, coursing through your veins and giving your every movement new life. You press those buttons and finally you have a whole new reality show marathon to rot your brain with. Remote in hand, you make your way back to the couch, determined that the sneaky little guy will never leave your sight again. You’re safe. All is right in the world again. Aaah.

By Evan Caughey

For our grandparents, this nightmare was everyday reality. Some of them may not have even had television sets at all! Ok, I’m sorry– I won’t mention such wickedness again. Please excuse my foul language. But seriously, how many of us take our remote controls for granted? I know I do. I’ve even been known to throw it at my wall from time to time during my “O.C.” breakdowns. (Hello, Marissa? I’m just wondering…is Trey dead? No? Damn.)

I’ve always assumed that the remote control was simply born out of the TV after it was invented. Sure, it was an unplanned pregnancy, but we couldn’t imagine our lives without the kid now. Boy, was I wrong. According to, the road to the remote we know and love today was long and full of potholes.

The first wireless remote, called the “Flashmatic,” used light beams to change channels. Unfortunately, so does the sun, and if your living room happened to have windows in it, you were in for a very random viewing experience.

The next step was to use radio waves, but this too proved problematic. Because radio waves can travel through walls, people soon found themselves changing their neighbor’s TV channel. Finally, in 1956, Robert Adler got the gold. He used ultrasound in his remote, called the “Space Command,” and it didn’t even need batteries!

Today, remotes use infrared light to follow any command we could possibly need short of “make me pizza.” I’m sure they’re working on that. tells me there are remotes that follow voice command, remotes that turn off obnoxious TVs in public places, and my personal favorite, the Kymera Magic Wand remote control. Yes folks, now you can buy a remote control built to look and function like Harry Potter’s very own magical wand. According to, the magical remote has 13 individual programmable commands, including swishes and flicks and taps. And it comes with batteries! I have a strong feeling that if I ever bought this I’d end up carrying it around in my bag wherever I go, just in case a death eater pops up. Or if I need to place a love spell on Ron.

oh, oh, oh it's magic!

So next time you’re sitting through another “16 and Pregnant” marathon, pretending you don’t have anything better to do but in reality drinking in every second like my dog lapping up puddles after she ate my homemade play-dough, remember this: you could be buying me a Harry Potter Wand remote to play with. Just think of all the fun I’ll have! I’ll even send you pictures of me thoroughly enjoying myself, if you really want me to.

Bailey Sheats

Bailey (COM '11) is a Television writer for the Quad.

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