• I'm sure others will have a better answer but I believe the name comes from the very first remote controlled TVs available(you may be too young to remember). Long before there was digital tuning, TVs had big rotary dials that you would turn to find your posible 3 major networks, as you turned the main dial it would "clunk"or "click" between the preset numbers on the dial and then you would typically have to fine tune that with another wheel set behind that. The first remotes used very simple tech to send a signal to a motor that would rotate the clunk nob to the next "pre-set". They were enormous remote control devices that if you were lucky would have 2 buttons 1 for channel up and 1 for down. the 1 button ones would "scroll" around the dial. My family couldn't afford such luxury so I was the remote. I remember my first VCR(Betamax)had analog tuners for like up to 15 stations, and the remote only did Stop,Play,FF,Rewind and was tethered to the unit by a15' wire!
  • I remember these from my childhood. They were simple clickers that made a distinct "click" when you pressed a button. If I remember correctly, they had three buttons (some brands may have had more or less): one to turn the set on and off, one to dial the channel up, and one to dial the channel down. Unlike modern infrared remotes, they worked in adacent rooms without being in line-of-sight, and didn't use batteries. My conclusion is that each button struck a tuning fork or something similar (causing the loud "click"), which generated an ultrasonic tone (like those silent dog whistles) that the set "heard" and then activated the motor to turn the dial or turn the set on or off. By the way, FYI, in those older sets, the tuning dial was the spindle of a large variable capacitor that was part of the receiver detection circuit.
  • According to, "In 1956 Robert Adler developed "Zenith Space Command", a wireless remote. It was mechanical and used ultrasound to change the channel and volume. When the user pushed a button on the remote control it clicked and struck a bar, hence the term "clicker". What I remember from my childhood though is the channel changer, a bulky box with a very, very long cord the reached from the TV to wherever you sat. It had one or two rows of hard buttons, one for each cable TV channel, that when you pressed it made a very loud and distinctive "click". Around our house we would often say "pass the clicker". Since this was not a wireless device I do not know if it pre-dates the Zenith remote or not, but for me that's what comes to mind when I envision "the clicker".

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