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Inventor of the TV remote control dies at 96

4:44 AM, May 23, 2012   |    comments
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(USA TODAY) - Next time you sit down on the couch and flip on the television with your remote control, take a moment to remember Eugene Polley.

Polley is the reason TV viewers no longer have to get up from their seats to change the channel. The inventor of the first wireless remote control for TVs died on May 20 of natural causes, Zenith Electronics revealed in a statement. He was 96.

Polley started working with Zenith in 1935, completing a 47-year career working with the electronics company's engineering department.

It was there he invented the "Flash-Matic," a remote control introduced in 1955 that used a "flashlight-like device to activate photo cells on the television set to change channels." The cells would also let viewers turn the picture and sound on and off.

The invention netted Polley and fellow Zenith engineer Robert Adler an Emmy in 1997 for their pioneering work with wireless remotes.

Today, remote controls have become essential tech companions. Nearly every home entertainment device -- from TVs to Blu-ray players -- is sold with a remote. Just don't lose it between the sofa cushions.

Brett Molina, USA TODAY

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