RC cars got their start from tether cars that were produced in the 1940s. These cars went around and around in circles but only as far as the tether let them. In the 1960s gas powered rc hobby cars started showing up. That first car was a 1/8 scale pan car. Its engine was a 2 stroke 19 cubic inch model airplane engine.
The 1970s brought advances in the world of rc hobby cars. That's when gasoline motors were first introduced. With gasoline motors came faster and more powerful cars. But those weren't the only new innovations. Electric motors were introduced, which made rc toys more accessible to more people, but they also aren't as powerful as other motor choices.
In the 1980s people who had rc hobby cars wanted more. They started racing their 1/10 scale cars in off road races. This is also when the 4 wheel drive dune buggy style became popular. This let people go places that their other cars had never let them do before.
It was in the 1990s that the rc hobby really started taking off. Electric motors became faster, breaking the 10 mph barrier. Nitro engines were introduced. Companies that made rc hobby cars started making more accessories for the cars. The owners started tricking out their cars. They would take off the standard pieces and add in better tires, stronger engines, whatever they could. This was really when the hobby established itself into what it is today.
After the year 2000 the market for rc hobby cars grew. Electric motors became stronger and were actually able to beat other cars in large rc races. The bodies started being made of fiberglass and the cars became lighter, stronger and more durable. Just like full size cars, the rc cars have undergone evolution to become better.
RC toys are a great hobby now.