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Jackson popularised TV remote


Jackson popularised  TV remote

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In today’s Black History Month series, we look at the work of inventor Dr Joseph N. Jackson.

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SANDRA SEALEY INNOVATOR: Dr Joseph Jackson is responsible for the modern-day remote control (right). His inventions include a women’s fertility predictor (left) that’s a popular option for birth control.

THE REMOTE CONTROL has become the source of many a dispute in the home today, fuelling rivalries between siblings and spouses who want to hog the precious device to surf channels, or just to ensure the TV channel is not switched from their favourite game or show.

However, the next time you make use of your TV remote, VCR, cable box (TIVO or DVR), just bear in mind that you owe their ease and convenience to an African-American inventor and innovator.

Joseph N. Jackson, inventor, scientist, businessman, humanitarian and co-founder of the Black Inventions Museum Inc., is a living legend who continues to work on ideas to enhance the lives of people worldwide.

The fourth of eight children born to Ernest and Octavia Jackson in Harvey, “Jefferson Parish”, Louisiana, United States, Jackson was always “a curious soul”. He started pulling apart radios when he was a child to find “the little people” who would talk on the radio. He had “a knack for the mystery of technology”, he said in AN interview.

Night school

Jackson attended a segregated school where he received his general education diploma. At the age of 17 he went to work as an oil field tool maintenance helper. In 1961, at age 18, he was accepted in the US Army and attended television repair school at night. He later owned and operated a radio and television repair shop parttime for seven years in Fayetteville, North Carolina, near Fort Bragg where he was stationed.

After being honourably discharged in February 1968, Jackson re-enlisted in June 1970, working as an engineer equipment technician in Korea. He graduated from the Army Recruiting and Career Counsellor School in 1971 and transferred to California in 1973. He was an army recruiter and careers counsellor until his retirement in July 1978.

Before his retirement, Jackson completed a degree in business administration at Columbia College. He also holds a doctorate in applied science and technology from Glendale University.

His earliest effort at invention led to the precursor of the v-chip, technology used in the television industry to block violent and objectionable programmes that could be seen by young children. In 1993, he founded Protelcon Inc., which markets and distributes the TeleCommander, the first empowerment television accessory designed to give parents control over viewing content and the habits of children.


Jackson didn’t invent the remote itself. He improved on earlier inventions, making the TV remote what we know it to be today.

He is the holder of at least six US patents in the area of telecommunications (a video supervision/censoring system for parental control, and two programmable television controllers), and fertility prediction devices for women, as well as several copyrights, trademarks, and pending patents in the area of aircraft security and tracking systems.

As a businessman, his marketing strategies are also impressive and help influence people to constantly use technology.

He is a member of the Black Business Association of Los Angeles and the Hawthorne Chamber of Commerce, and also serves as patent consultant to potential inventors.