Originally Posted by mailiang
Don't you remember the Zenith Space Command
remotes? They used tuning bars. Look Mom, no battery's!
Some even earlier remotes:http://www.earlytelevision.org/remotes.html
Zenith later marketed a couple of interesting remotes, one of which was actually pneumatic. It was attached to the set with a hose and squeezing a bulb at your end changed the channel. If you've ever seen the movie "The Apartment" with Jack Lemmon and Shirley McLaine there's a scene featuring this thing. Later they used a flashlight kinda thingy that you aimed at one of the upper corners of screen bezel to change channels, the other upper corner for on/off volume.
Ultrasonic remotes came into use in the 70s and some people still call the remote a "clicker" becuase of the sound they made when you mashed the buttons. I had a set with one of these and if the remote was misplaced I could change channels by jiggling my keyring.
Remote control was very rare up into the 70s, if you had a kid in the house you didn't need one.