Share Your Memories is a monthly column that invites readers to contribute their recollections of what they watched on television and how they watched it. Topics range from obsolete equipment to network programming practices to specific TV shows and everything in between.
Before the Clicker
This month’s column is not about the TV remote control. That’s a topic for another column. No, this month I’d like to hear from readers who remember watching television without the benefit of a remote control.
I don’t. There was always a remote for the TV set in the living room when I was a kid. My parents did have an old, portable black-and-white TV set in the basement when I was growing up. It didn’t have a remote control. I can recall lying on the floor turning the knobs, trying to find a station that was clear enough to watch.
For decades, that’s what television was like for most people. If you wanted to change the channel you had to get up, walk to the television set, and turn a knob. And if you were a kid in the 1950s or 1960s, there’s a good chance you were the remote. Your mom or dad would tell you to change the channel and you did.
Even in the 1970s, most people still didn’t have a remote control. Although the first TV remote controls were introduced in the 1950s, they weren’t popular. According to Slate, only 17 percent of households in the United States had a remote in 1979. The 1980s brought big changes to the television industry, one of which was widespread use of the remote control.
I’m curious to hear from readers who recall watching TV before the remote control came along. Do you think you experienced television differently, not being able to easily change channels? Do you remember wishing there was a way to change channels without having to turn a knob? Can you remember hearing about TV remote controls and wanting to get one?
What was life like before the TV remote control? Were you forced to get up off the couch whenever your parents wanted to watch a different channel? Hit the comments with your recollections and memories.