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RIP Eugene Polley, Inventor of the Remote Control

Zenith Electronics engineer invented the Flash-Matic remote in 1955, but owned a modern-day universal remote control at his death at 96.

Julie Jacobson · May 22, 2012

Eugene Polley, inventor of the TV remote control, has died at the age of 96, the BBC reports.

As a Zenith Electronics engineer, Polley invented the Flash-Matic in 1955, which pointed a beam of light at photo cells in the corner of the TV to change channels and turn the unit on and off.

A 1955 advertisement for the product boasted, “You can also

shut off

long, annoying commercials while picture remains on screen!”

The remote control suffered from interference from lights, which was little concern since there were only like three channels to begin with. Still, it was better than the wired remote control that it replaced.

Zenith spokesperson John Taylor told the Associated Press that Polley was “a proud owner of a flat-screen TV and modern remote.”

Even so, Taylor says, “He always kept his original remote control with him.”

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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at jjacobson@ehpub.com

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