The world's first remote controls were radio-frequency devices that directed German naval vessels to crash into Allied boats during WWI. In WWII, remote controls detonated bombs for the first time. The end of the great wars left scientists with a brilliant technology and nowhere to apply it. Sixty years later, some of us spend an hour looking for the remote before we remember there are buttons on the TV.

In this article, we'll examine the infrared technology used in most home theaters, look at the difference between IR and RF remotes, find out the difference between a "universal" and a "learning" remote and check out some of the other high-tech features you can find on remotes today, like PC connectivity, RF extenders and macro commands.