Inventor of first wireless TV remote Eugene Polley dies

23 May 2012

Eugene Polley forever changed the way we watch TV

The inventor behind the first wireless TV remote, former Zenith engineer Eugene Polley, died in a suburban Chicago hospital on Sunday, a Zenith Electronics spokesman said. He was 96.

In 1955, consumers received the option of buying a Zenith television that came with Flash-Matic tuning. The TV also came with a green ray gun-shaped device with a red trigger.

Polley’s Flash-Matic pointed a beam of light at photo cells in the corners of the TV screen. Each corner activated a different function, turning the picture and sound off and on, and changing the channels, AP reported.

Polley, a native of Chicago, and Robert Adler, another engineer at Zenith, received an Emmy award in 1997 for their work in pioneering TV remotes.

In 2009, Polley received the Masaru Ibuka Consumer Electronics Award from the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers.

Polley earned 18 US patents during his 47-year career as an engineer.

Eugene Polley

Eugene Polley. LG Electronics photo