Mel Boldt and Associates’ iconic TV remote control ‘clickers’

by | Aug 29, 2022 | History

Mel Boldt and Associates began making its mark on the industrial design world in the early 1950s just as television was sweeping the nation. Americans were transfixed by their TV shows and the choices on different channels. They were ready for a product that would keep them in their easy chair when it was time to turn on the “The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show”. Mel Boldt and Associates’ client Zenith was creating the first cordless remote controls and it was the job of MBA designers to create how many of those devices looked.

In 1956, Mel Boldt and Associates designed the exterior of the Space Commander 400 featured in an advertisement with George Burns and Gracie Allen. It had only four buttons and used the frequencies created by hammers hitting aluminum rods within the device to allow users to change the channel from a distance. The sound created by pressing the buttons earned it the nickname “clicker”. An engineering drawing created by a draftsperson at Mel Boldt and Associates indicated the device was to consist of black case and bright gold frame with raised numbers and letters painted gold with a die-cast pin-on chrome ring detail to the left of the “Space Command” name and the number 400 on the right, painted red.

Of the many TV remotes Mel Boldt and Associates designed for Zenith, the one believed to be company founder Mel Boldt’s favorite was a Space Command model designed in the 1970s. Its chrome box-like shape framed the simple four control buttons against a black background. All the buttons were chrome, save for a pop of turquoise on the OFF-ON button.

For more on the history of the TV remote control, visit and

About The Author

Stacey Alatzas is a journalist, author and social media consultant. She is the granddaughter of Mel Boldt, who started Mel Boldt and Associates in 1952. 

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