The Clapper

The Clapper became a cultural phenomenon, featuring in television shows, movies, and commercials. It was often referenced in humorous contexts, contributing to its iconic status as a retro gadget.

The Vintage 1984 Original “The Clapper” Appliance Control is a device that gained popularity as a simple and convenient way to control various appliances using sound activation. The device was marketed under the slogan “Clap on, clap off” and was designed to make it easier for users to turn their appliances on and off with a simple clap of their hands. “The Clapper” was invented by American sound-activated switch inventor Joseph Pedott and sold since 1984 by San Francisco, California-based Joseph Enterprises, Inc.

Pedott marketed the clapper with the slogan “Clap On! Clap Off! The Clapper!”. The Clapper device was designed to be plugged into a wall outlet. Users could then plug their appliances, such as lamps or televisions, into The Clapper. By clapping their hands twice quickly, the device’s built-in microphone would pick up the sound and activate the connected appliance. Clapping twice again would deactivate the appliance. The Clapper was marketed as a convenient solution for individuals with mobility issues or those who wanted an easy way to control their devices without getting up.

A typical hand clap generates a sound that falls within the audible frequency range for human ears, which is roughly 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. The specific frequency of a hand clap can vary depending on factors like the force of the clap, the size of the hands, and the environment in which it occurs. However, the sound produced by a hand clap is typically in the range of a few hundred Hertz (Hz) to a few thousand Hertz (Hz). This falls well within the audible spectrum, making it suitable for detection by devices like The Clapper, which are designed to respond to such sound patterns.

Scientifically, The Clapper operates based on acoustic pattern recognition. It contains a microphone that continuously samples audio in its vicinity. When it detects a specific sound pattern, such as two consecutive sharp claps, the microphone converts the sound waves into electrical signals. These signals are then processed by an internal circuit, often using a microcontroller, which analyzes the waveform and distinguishes it from other background noises. Upon recognizing the target pattern, the microcontroller triggers a relay switch, which either connects or disconnects the electrical circuit powering the attached appliance. This action effectively turns the appliance on or off based on the detected sound pattern, illustrating the fundamental principles of sound-activated switching mechanisms.

It was also advertised as a novelty item and gained popularity as a gift or gadget. Over the years, The Clapper went through several iterations and improvements. There were versions that allowed control of multiple appliances and included adjustable sensitivity settings to filter out background noise. The Clapper devices, including the 1984 original version, were manufactured in Hong Kong.

During that time, Hong Kong was a hub for manufacturing and exporting various consumer electronics and gadgets. The Clapper’s impact on popular culture and its innovative concept influenced the development of other voice-activated and smart home devices that we see today, such as voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.

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Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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