1955 Zenith ‘Flash-matic’ Television Controller

£650.00

World’s first wireless TV remote control from 1955. Very good original condition and working order.

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World’s first wireless TV remote control from 1955. Very good original condition and working order.

Ok so this is basically a green coloured flash-light, but it is also a rare piece of TV and social history. The first wire TV remote control was invented by the US company Zenith in 1951 and called the ‘Lazy-bones’. Then in 1955 a designer Eugene Polly working for Zenith produced this the world’s first wireless remote control. By setting light sensors into the corners of the TV set, the user from the comfort of their own chair could turn the set on or off and change the channels. In reality it was a great idea which came with serious glitches, not least because ambient light in the room could also trigger the sensors by mistake. The controller cost $100 ontop of the price of a $400 television so was not cheap. By 1956 the Flash-matic was superseded by the ‘Zenith Space Command’ series of controllers that worked not off light but sound. During the 12 months of production it has been estimated that only 30,000 Flash-matics were produced. There is no certainty as to how many still exist today, but over the years many would have been simply discarded (not least because they can easily be confused with a child’s torch).

This piece is in very good original condition and is perfect for display and educational purposes (we also have the Lazybones and Space Command models for sale if you wanted to make a complete display!). The gilt metal trim has some light wear that looks much worse in the photos than actually in real life. We are including a nice period advert that has been mounted on board (sadly the previous owner glued it down to the board).



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