Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.
While we all use remote controls, we understand little about their history or their impact on our daily lives. Caetlin Benson-Allot looks back on the remote control's material and cultural history to explain how such an innocuous media accessory has changed the way we occupy our houses, interact with our families, and experience the world. From the first wired radio remotes of the 1920s to infrared universal remotes, from the homemade TV controllers to the Apple Remote, remote controls shape our media devices and how we live with them.
Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.
Caetlin Benson-Allott is Associate Professor of English at Georgetown University, USA. She is the author of Killer Tapes and Shattered Screens: Video Spectatorship from VHS to File Sharing (University of California Press, 2013) and of a column on film and new media in Film Quarterly.