Before Eugene Polley's invention, the world operated a television by walking to a TV set and pressing buttons to power on/off, adjust volume and change channels by hand. Polley, a 47-year engineer for Zenith Electronics and the inventor of the wireless remote control died Sunday of natural causes. The visionary was 96 years of age.
n 1955, Polley created the Flash-Matic, a wireless remote control that looked like a bit like a gun. It was green and had a red trigger. Users would point the green ray gun at corners of the TV screen, each corner controlling a different aspect of control, such as turning the TV off, upping the volume, and changing the channel.
Polley began working for Zenith in the stockroom, working his way up to his status as an engineer. As such, he earned 18 patents in the United States. His creativity and skills also assisted in car radios being controlled by push buttons and in the formation of the video disk.
Zenith used to be a huge name in electronics throughout the world, including North America. Its slogan was "The quality goes in, before the name goes on." The brand was very familiar to the public and it was not only credited to the invention of the remote control, thanks to Polley, but also is credited for starting subscription television. Nowadays, Zenith is chiefly known through its parent company, LG Electronics.
Baby boomers and Generation X most likely recall the days when changing the channel literally meant getting up from wherever they were seated, crossing the room, and changing a round dial that was located on the front of the TV. It was the same for the lowering or raising of the volume. More often than not in families, the kids were the remote control handlers, getting up and down on their parents' whims.
Nowadays, many TVs and other electronic devices have only a minimum of controls on the actual device, and those controls are often hidden from view. Instead, the remote control runs it all.
Polley died in a Chicago hospital.