Business, Economics and Jobs

Eugene Polley, inventor of the wireless television remote control, dies at the age of 96


A modern version of Eugene Polley's invention.

The inventor of the world’s first wireless television remote control has died at the age of 96, the Associated Press reported.

Eugene Polley, whose 1955 invention launched the era of channel surfers and couch potatoes, died of natural causes in a Chicago hospital on Sunday, the BBC said, citing Polley’s former employer, Zenith Electronics.

Polley worked for Zenith, now owned by LG Electronics, for 47 years and earned 18 US patents for his inventions, which included the push-button car radio and the video disk.

But his best-known creation was the “Flash-Matic” remote control, which revolutionized television viewing.

The device used a flashlight-like device to activate photo cells on the television set to change channels, Forbes said.

Voice of America published a photo of a 1955 advertisement, provided by LG, showing a woman pointing the gun-shaped device at a television set.

A year later Robert Adler, another engineer at Zenith, built upon Polley's invention, using ultrasound instead of light to trigger functions on the television receiver, PCMag said.

Both men were awarded an Emmy in 1997 for their contributions to television.

On NBC Nightly News’ Facebook page, fans paid tribute to Polley and his life-changing gadget.

“The inventor of couch potatoes everywhere! LOL!!” wrote Rebecca Irvin Takeall.

Jann Dougherty said: “R.I.P. What an invention; what a man!”