Eugene Polley, the Zenith engineer who invented the first TV remote controller, died Sunday from natural causes at the age of 96. Polley had 18 patents to his name, and was involved in the development of push-button car radios and video disks, but -- as any of us couch potatoes will attest -- the remote controller was his crowning achievement.
His controller was called Flash-matic tuning, and it worked by shining a beam of light on four sensors mounted the corners of the screen and could turn the TV on and off, change channels and adjust the volume.
Anybody old enough to remember the days of having to physically get up and change the channels can tell our younger readers just how revolutionary Flash-matic tuning and the remote controllers that grew from it is. Just being able to turn the volume down on commercials made it worthwhile and, with the advent of bazillion channel cable services, the remote has led to the joys of channel surfing.
So, rest in peace Mr. Polley, and thanks for your humble little invention that so many of us use and appreciate to this day.