October 20, 2004

Inventor Rejoices as TVs Go Dark

Tired of blaring TV sets at shops, bars and waiting rooms? A new universal remote called the TV-B-Gone lets users turn off virtually any set. A trial run in the streets of San Francisco shows the device to be quite effective. By Steven Bodzin.
Sanders Li’s paper plate held nothing but a crumpled napkin. His meal finished, he lingered. His unblinking eyes gazed at Sex and the City on a 15-inch color TV over the counter at Nizario’s Pizza on 18th Street in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood Sunday evening.
In the middle of a scene, the TV turned off.
For 10 seconds, Li kept looking, waiting, not blinking through his glasses. At last, he left his stool, trashed his plate and emerged into the cool autumn night.
Leaving, he passed 48-year-old Mitch Altman, who was twiddling a matte-black plastic fob on his key chain. Altman’s blue and purple hair reflected the pizza shop’s neon, and he was smiling excitedly.
“We just saved him several minutes of his life,” he said.
Li agreed. He said he didn’t care that the TV was gone, even though he had been watching the show.
Altman’s key-chain fob was a TV-B-Gone, a new universal remote that turns off almost any television. The device, which looks like an automobile remote, has just one button. When activated, it spends over a minute flashing out 209 different codes to turn off televisions, the most popular brands first.
(full article)