23 May 2012

Inventor of TV remote dies at 96

9:01 pm on 23 May 2012

Eugene Polley, the man who invented the first wireless remote control for television in 1955, has died, aged 96.

His long-time employer Zenith Electronics - a subsidiary of South Korea's LG Electronics formerly known as Zenith Radio Corporation - said Mr Polley died of natural causes in Chicago on Sunday.

Mr Polley joined Zenith Radio in 1935. His 18 patented inventions included the Flash-Matic remote control, a flashlight-like device that could turn a television set on and off and change channels, the ABC reports.

It functioned with four photo cells fitted on each corner of the television screen, but was not without its problems - notably on sunny days - and it was succeeded by the ultrasonic Zenith Space Command in 1960.

During World War II Mr Polley worked at Zenith on US military radar systems.

Later, he helped to develop push-button car radios as well as video disks, the predecessor of today's DVDs.

He shared an Emmy award in 1997 with Space Command inventor Robert Adler for pioneering wireless remote control devices for consumer television.

Mr Polley is survived by his son and grandson, who live in San Diego. His wife and a daughter are deceased.