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Inventor of first TV remote control dies aged 96

Eugene Polley’s pioneering ‘Flash-Matic’ device made life easier for couch potatoes everywhere.

The Zenith 'Space Commander', a later model on sale between 1965 and 1972
The Zenith 'Space Commander', a later model on sale between 1965 and 1972
Image: Wikimedia Commons

EUGENE POLLEY, THE inventor of the first wireless TV remote control, has died.

The former Zenith engineer died of natural causes Sunday at a suburban Chicago hospital, according to Zenith Electronics spokesperson John Taylor. He was 96.

Couch potatoes everywhere have Polley to thank for hours of feet-up channel surfing. His invention began as a luxury, but has become a necessity in an era of hundreds of TV channels and home theatres. Just ask anyone who’s lost a remote.

Polley’s 1955 Flash-Matic pointed a beam of light at photo cells in the corners of the screen. This activated the picture and sound and changed channels.

Polley and fellow Zenith engineer Robert Adler were honored in 1997 with an Emmy for their work in pioneering TV remotes.

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Associated Press

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