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The inventor, and engineer for Zenith Electronics, changed living rooms forever

Eugene Polley, inventor of the remote control, dies at 96

Today Zenith Electonics announced that Eugene Polley, inventor of the remote control, has passed away at age 96.

A spokesman for the firm said that Polley (1915-2012), died from natural causes on Sunday May 20th.

Polley started work for Zenith back in 1935, straight after graduating from college. He began as a stock boy, then worked on the firm’s catalogue, then transferred to engineering and worked on radar during World War II.

He earned 18 US patents while at Zenith Electronics, and in 1955, his invention called the ‘Flash-Matic’ hit shelves – the first wireless remote control, which used visible light to control a television with photo cells in the screen.

It didn’t take long for consumers – with increasing numbers of television channels on offer, particularly in the US, to see the benefits of the remote control. Today they are used to control televisions, games consoles, computers, even curtains – and argued over by families worldwide.

In 1997 Polley and Robert Adler received a Technology and Engineering Emmy Award for ‘Pioneering Development of Wireless Remote Control for Consumer Television’, and then in 2009 he received the IEEE Consumer Electronics Award "for contributions to the technology of the wireless remote control for television and other consumer electronic products."

This image, provided by LG Electronics (as is the picture of Polley, above), is of a 1955 advertisement for Zenith’s ‘Flash-matic’ remote control. You have to see it to believe it.

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