Inventor of television remote control dies

May 22, 2012 at 7:32 PM

CHICAGO, May 22 (UPI) -- Eugene Polley, the American inventor of the television remote control, has died at age 96, his former employer announced.

In a statement, Zenith Electronics said Polley died Sunday in a Chicago hospital.

Polley designed the Flash-Matic remote control in 1955 -- a device that allowed viewers to change channels and control volume by pointing a ray-gun shaped device at photo cells built into the face of Zenith televisions.

Because his remote used light to control television functions it was finicky to use and room lighting could interfere with it, so remote control technology soon moved on to sonic models and the infrared remotes familiar today.

Polley was born in Chicago in 1915 and spent 47 years working for Zenith. He was awarded 18 U.S. patents during his time with the company.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences honored Polley and another Zenith engineer, Robert Adler, with an Emmy in 1997 for their work on television remote control technology.

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