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Eugene Polley, inventor of the remote control

eugene-polley.jpgThe remote control has become an integral part of our life, an irreplaceable object of our everyday life, which often enough you have to search for! But do you know who invented it and when?

The inventor of the remote control is Eugene Theodore Polley and he was a US American engineer, born in 1915 and died in 2012. He grew up in Chicago; he stopped university because his parents did not have the financial means to support his studies. He hired as a messenger boy at Zenith Radio Corporation with 20 years. There he quickly impressed his employers as a talented engineer and inventor. During the 2nd World War, he did his military service at the front and was able to expand his knowledge as a radar technician there. Back from the war and at his old company, Zenith, they quickly ordered him to develop a simple solution to control the new star in the household: the TV!

The remote control is his most famous invention, but he has logged 18 different patents during his career. Including such innovative inventions (which have become commonplace in our everyday life) such as the radio and the video CD (ancestors of the DVD).


On the way to develop the remote control, Eugene Polley put on light-sensitive modules in all 4 corners of the TV screen. The first model, the Flash-Matic, allowed controlling the switching on and off, turn the sound on and turn off and switch channels. The Flash-Matic was a success, despite some weaknesses: the remote was big, heavy, and the channel change was random when the TV was exposed to sunlight. A year later his invention was improved by a colleague of Eugene Polley, Robert Adler, he developed the system of today's remote control: the Zenith Space Command is born! This model had no battery and worked on ultrasound, produced mechanically with small hammers, what it made more manageable. A real change of behavior in living room set in, which lasted into the 80s, where the infrared remote controls showed up. Eugene Polley never considered his invention as outstanding, but it has affected all our relation to the television.

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