Robert Adler, co-inventor of the original TV remote control and an Emmy Award winner died due to heart failure on Thursday. He was 93. Best known as the "Father of the TV Remote Control", he along with Eugene Polley developed the first television remote control which was introduced in 1956 by Zenith Radio Corporation.
In 1955, Polley invented the ‘Flashmatic’, using photocells to transmit information to a television screen. In 1956, Robert Adler invented the remote control which used ultrasonics, or high-frequency sound. In 1997, both Adler and Polley were honored with an Emmy Award for the device "that made couch potatoship possible."
Adler's remote control used sound to communicate with a television set instead of using light. It used aluminum rods struck by buttons on the device to produce high-frequency tones that would be interpreted to control functions by the television set. In the 1960s, Adler modified the remote control to use ultrasonic signals.
An astounding inventor, Adler, earned a Ph. D. in Physics from the University of Vienna in 1937. In 1941, he took up a job in the research division of Zenith Electronics, where his career lasted 60 years.
Adler, during World War II, worked on high-frequency oscillators and electromechanical filters in aircraft radios. He is known for his work in surface acoustic wave technology used in color televisions and touch screens. During his lifetime, Adler was granted 180 patents for electronic devices.
In an interview in May 2004, he downplayed his role when asked if he felt his invention made people lazy. He responded, "People ask me all the time - 'Don't you feel guilty for it?' And I say that's ridiculous. It seems reasonable and rational to control the TV from where you normally sit and watch television."
The obituary by the Associated Press for Robert Adler begins as thus: "Hit the mute button for a moment of silence: The co-inventor of the TV remote has died."
Polley, his co-inventor said, "He was part of a project that changed the world."