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Universal Keychain Remote Turns Off Most TVs

POSTED: 8:59 am EDT October 20, 2004

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- A lot of people love television but apparently some people have had enough of it, too.

Meet San Francisco's Mitch Altman -- inventor of TV-B-Gone. He's created a small keychain device that allows people to turn off most TVs anywhere from airports to restaurants.

The device works like a universal remote control but one that only turns TVs on or off. With a zap of a button, the gizmo goes through a string of about 200 infrared codes that controls the power of about a thousand television models.

Here's the catch. It takes about 17 seconds for the power on the television to go off -- and most TVs already come with an on-off button.

No worries. Altman said they're selling like hotcakes.

Altman doesn't like TVs at airports and such and prefers to turn them off if no one minds. The San Francisco high-tech entrepreneur says the idea is to promote conversation in public places like bars and restaurants.

He figured orders would trickle in, but says he's been swamped by the demand for the $15 device. Altman said there's one place he wouldn't try using his TV-B-Gone off switch -- and that's a sports bar. He said he can be mischievous, but he's not stupid.

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