How A Riff On A Tv Remote Control Led To A Groundbreaking Interactive Toy.
In 1993, toy inventor Dan Klitsner was sitting in his San Francisco studio, looking for a hit. Sure enough, he would find one—one of the most successful and enduring toys of the era—but it would take a while to nail it. Or, we might say, to bop it.
Klitsner’s idea was to encourage kids parked on the sofa in front of the TV to actually move a little. His solution was called the Channel Bopper, a hammer-shaped remote control that required physical actions to control the TV—whack the hammer to change the channels, twist a knob to adjust the volume, and so on. “It was to make kids move when changing the channels—that was the idea,” Klitsner recalled on a recent afternoon, riding a bus over the Golden Gate Bridge. “Pull, twist, bop—those three commands.”
Regrettably for the young inventor, though, scouts for the toy companies weren’t nibbling. After tinkering with his prototype a bit more—including an ill-fated experiment in adding an LCD screen—the idea hit him: What if he reversed the whole scheme to have the game control the kid instead of the kid controlling the game?
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