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May 2012 Retro Gaming Article


May 22, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Eugene Polley, inventor of the Flashmatic wireless TV remote died

Next time you can't change channels because you can't find the remote, take a moment to think about how the ubiquitous clicker came to be. You didn't create it, but your lazy ass was probably part of an R&D theory. The first color TV my family owned was a Zenith and the first Betamax I bought in the 80's had a wired remote control. My, how times have changed.

Eugene Polley, inventor of the Flashmatic wireless TV remote Eugene Polley (November 29, 1915 - May 20, 2012) was an engineer for Zenith Electronics renown for inventing the wireless remote control for TVs. The term "clicker" came from a mechanical remote, created by Robert Adler, that used ultrasound to change the channel and volume. When a button was pushed it struck a bar making a clicking sound. Each bar emitted a different frequency which the television detected.

Prior to the "clicker", Eugene Polley devised the Flashmatic remote that turned the set on & off and change the channel by shining a beam of visible light onto a photoelectric cell. However the cell did not distinguish between light from the remote and other light sources and required precise accuracy to work properly... hence the pistol-grip.

Eugene Polley, inventor of the Flashmatic wireless TV remote Polley and Adler shared a 1996-1997 Technology & Engineering Emmy Award for "Pioneering Development of Wireless Remote Control for Consumer Television. Ad for the Flashmatic wireless TV remote
Even this ad touts the avoidance of commercials!

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