18 February 2007

The Poor Mouth mourns the passing of another icon of sedentary living

Last month I reported the passing of Momofuku Ando, the inventor of the pot noodle. It is with a heavy heart that I report the death of another man who truly changed the world

Robert Adler, co-inventor of the TV remote control has died aged 93. In a 60-year career, Adler was best known for his 1956 Zenith Space Command remote control, which helped make TV a truly sedentary pastime. Adler is credited as the device's inventor along with Eugene Polley. Polley created the 'Flashmatic' in 1955 that operated on photo cells. Adler introduced ultrasonics to make the device more efficient in 1956. Both were presented an Emmy award for the invention of the device in 1997.

On a more serious note Adler was an inventor who registered more than 180 US patents during his lifetime. His wife, Ingrid, said her would not have chosen the remote control as his favourite invention and he did not watch much television. 'He was more of a reader,' she said. 'He was a man who would dream in the night and wake up and say, "I just solved a problem." He was always thinking science.'


roman said...

As a week-end couch potato, I must admit that Adler is on my list of top ten heroes. I'll miss him.

Steve Bates said...

Ninety-three is a ripe old age; I suppose a combination of good genes, an active mind, and not using the TV remote too much made that possible for him. I get my exercise walking to and from a truly ancient NAD stereo receiver that still serves admirably, but is so old that it has no remote with which to change the volume.

If I were a cartoonist, I'd be unable to resist drawing a great Hand in the sky, pointing a device at Adler and clicking the Off button. I know; that speaks volumes about my sense of humor.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

I had no earthly idea that the remote control is such a historic artifact. 1957?!!??! I was the designated "remote control" for my family and I was born in 1974. I still remember clicking the channels for my mom between "Three's Company," and "Dallas."

jams o donnell said...

Me too Roman, but then I am an utterly lazy sod on any other day too - or I would be if work didn't get in the way!

LOL Steve perhaps an epitaph like God zapped teh off button. We use a Bose and for the life of me I don't know where the remote is so it is a case of getting up to change the CDs!

I don't remember us having a remote until not long before I went to University in 1981. Even then it must have been an ultrasound one as it caused the family cat (Kiska) to wake from her slumber and look at us in annoyed way every time we changed channels

Steve Bates said...

If I recall correctly, those early remotes did indeed use ultrasound, and the tones were generated mechanically. I saw one of those once, but was less impressed by the remote than by the device it drove: some sort of gear mechanism attached externally to the regular channel selector of the TV. The device I saw actually still worked after all those decades; it made a sort of grinding/clicking noise in changing the channel.

jams o donnell said...

Wow, yo mean the sound went out of the remote and it mechanically turned the dial? It sounds like something the residents of the street of cunning articifers would think of!