Hit the mute button for a moment of silence: The co-inventor of the TV remote, Robert Adler, has died.
Adler, who won an Emmy Award along with fellow engineer Eugene Polley for the device that made the couch potato possible, died Thursday of heart failure at a Boise nursing home at 93, Zenith Electronics Corp. said Friday.
In his six-decade career with Zenith, Adler was a prolific inventor, earning more than 180 U.S. patents. He was best known for his 1956 Zenith Space Command remote control, which helped make TV a truly sedentary pastime.
In a May 2004 interview with The Associated Press, Adler recalled being among two dozen engineers at Zenith given the mission to find a new way for television viewers to change channels without getting out of their chairs or tripping over a cable.
But he downplayed his role when asked if he felt his invention helped raise a new generation of couch potatoes.
“People ask me all the time — ‘Don’t you feel guilty for it?’ And I say that’s ridiculous,”
he said. “It seems reasonable and rational to control the TV from where you normally sit and watch television.”
Various sources have credited either Polley, another Zenith engineer, or Adler as the inventor of the device. Polley created the “Flashmatic,” a wireless remote introduced in 1955 that operated on photo cells. Adler introduced ultrasonics, or high-frequency sound, to make the device more efficient in 1956.
Zenith credits them as co-inventors, and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded both Adler and Polley an Emmy in 1997 for the landmark invention.
Source: USA Today
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