Skip to comments.Eugene Polley, inventor of TV remote, dies at 96
Posted on 05/22/2012 11:44:26 AM PDT by Free ThinkerNY
CHICAGO (AP) -- Couch potatoes everywhere can pause and thank Eugene Polley for hours of feet-up channel surfing. His invention, the first wireless TV remote, began as a luxury, but with the introduction of hundreds of channels and viewing technologies it has become a necessity.
Just ask anyone who's lost a remote.
(Excerpt) Read more at hosted.ap.org ...
Eugene, we hardly knew ye.
Too bad he couldn’t invent better tv shows.
Will there be a 21-click salute at the funeral?
The man responsible for the current obesity epidemic.
His nextdoor neighbor invented the mobile home, and the guy across the street perfected the home deep fat fryer.
Okay, so, I can’t substantiate any of that.
Polley was a cracker. Thanks Free ThinkerNY.
It looks more like the rotary control for aiming the TV antenna. A remote which was wired and sitting on the TV didn’t do much good.
As you changed channels, you needed to turn the antenna to point in the direction of that station. These were especially needed if you lived in a rural area and stations were in completely different directions.
Their first attempt involved ultrasonics. The remote had tuning forks or the like in them, and a button press would strike it the corresponding one.
I think it fizzled in the lab, because a woman there could hear that high up, and she thought they were deliberately annoying her. They figured if she could hear it, what about Fido...and they then figured they should find an alternative signalling method.
Our first color tv was a Heathkit, with a wired remote. Power, and a channel stepper for the VHF band. 12 at most?
I had a friend in school whose dad had one of those remotes for his console TV. It would “chunk” and then vibrate when you pressed the buttons.
It was definitely away from the TV, but connected with wires. I also recall it being a bit bigger and perhaps 2 dials. This was almost 30 years ago and I was probably 5-8 years old. I don’t recall if it was cable or antenna, but it was definitely sitting on an end table about 10-15 feet away from the TV next to a cigarette lighter that looked like an authentic pistol that I thought was the coolest thing in the world!
With only 3 channels they were a whole lot easier to program though...
And it wasn’t in a rural area. It was on Long Island, relatively close, maybe 20 miles to NYC.
It was the first wireless TV control, but the first wireless control for a radio was marketed in 1939 by Philco. It was a device the size of a toaster with a battery inside the size of a brick. A control that resembled a telephone dial was used to select stations and control the volume.
Oh, it made it out of the lab.
The 1955 Flash-Matic remote system used a highly directional photo flash tube in the hand held unit that was aimed at sensitive photoreceivers in the four front corners of the TV cabinet. However, bright sunlight falling on the TV was found to activate the controls.
Lead Engineer Robert Adler then suggested that ultrasonic sound be used as a trigger mechanism. This was produced in the hand held unit by mechanically-struck aluminum rods of carefully constructed dimensions - a receiver in the TV responded to the different frequencies this action produced. Enough audible noise was produced by pressing the buttons that consumers began calling remote controls “clickers”. The miniaturization of electronics meant that, eventually, the sounds were produced in the remote unit electronically but the operating principle remained in use until the 1980s, when it was superseded by the infra-red light system.
A greater man never lived. He should lie in state in the capitol rotunda.
Our first color set was a Heathkit as well. I still have fond memories of the hours my dad spent building it, even though he ran most of the kids out when he was working.
That ultrasonic remote was fun to play with. We would jingle our keys in front of the TV and the channel would change.
Next to Edison our greatest inventor!!!!
I here-by deem my clicker “Eugene” in honor of a great un-sung hero and great American. If I can only find it.... -Wb
“A greater man never lived. He should lie in state in the capitol rotunda.”
Along with the inventors of what I consider the two greatest inventions of the last 30 years-the minivan and cargo pants/shorts.
This invention is an act that would normally lead to sainthood and prayers from true-believers.
The sound made by the plug on the end of an antenna cable when it (gently) hit the glass screen of the TV could also make the remote sensor do things, at the TV shop where I had a summer job before I went to college.
The first ultrasonic remote I knew of was a pneumatic Space Command. It emitted brief ultrasonic whistles when one of two buttons were pushed, which built up air pressure in an internal bellows then released it into a tiny whistle tube. This later gave way to a less bulky system that struck tuned metal rods with hammers.
We have a winner!
Barack Obama has discovered a way to beat the remote control channel changers. He arranges to be on every channel at once.
That looks like an set-top control for an external antenna rotor.
I remember kludging up a system for channel changing in a city where all local channels were UHF and where VHF could not be received without a raised outside antenna. So with suitable small capacitors (a few picofarads) I linked the power line input to the VHF antenna terminals, and then sat an old fashioned plug in tube-type UHF converter by my dad’s bedside with its output similarly linked to the power line. Voila, there were channels 18, 27, 45, and 62. He still had to get up to turn the set on and off and vary the volume. But on our budget at the time it was luxury.
Never has one man done so much to help his fellow man do so little.
Before him we had to change the channels with our bare hands:(
Well, he’s on ‘mute’, now.
My aunt and uncle had one of those - a "Zenith Space Command":
The best part wasn't the metallic thunking sound, but the way the TV channel dial was turned by an electric motor and a gear. Like activating a small automobile starter, wirelessly.
That’s what we had as a kid. My dad bought it used from a guy that he built a house for.
It was a big Zenith in the wood console, and the clicker had three buttons that would tap the three rods setting them to vibrate. IIRC the bottons were on/off, volume (would go up in steps and keep clicking and it would “go back around” to low volume again. And the third was the channels, each click would increase the channel and when you got to the highest channel it would go back to the lowest and start over again. Of course with only four(?) channels and the local (and fuzzy) UHF(?) channel it was no big deal.
And out in New Jersey even in the 80’s people had the antenna rotators to be able to change between NY and Philadelphia stations. For the news it was NY if you wanted to hear about violence, and Philadelphia if you wanted to hear about fires!
THERE IT IS! And 4 buttons! (Did they make a 3 button - but my memory in my previous post is probably wrong). I was going to mention the wire mesh on the front - very distinctive. As well as the bronze and silver color.
A great man has passed. RIP.
Ha ha ha!
I think that’s the “Stun” setting. ;-)
Yes, a web image search turned up a 3-button variant. The only one I'd ever seen was a four-button version, though. It lingered around my aunt's house long after the old TV was gone. I guess it became a conversation piece, like the gray plastic donkey that dispensed cigarettes from its rump.
It was really great when the advance button got stuck.
I don’t recall the separate button (on the three button version). But a search did show a 4-button with all white buttons (not the yellow one). I don’t recall having a yellow button on ours.
I wonder what our kids will be talking about in 50 years? I know some are probably not even familiar with music on CD’s anymore!
Heh. My radio is up on a shelf above my desk just out of reach. When I get a phone call I turn the radio off with a ruler!
I had that exact model when I lived in Maynard, MA up until 1989. I could pull in signals from Providence and Manchester, both about 50 miles away.
His wife had to pry the remote from his cold, dead hands, the coroner’s office reports. Funeral arrangements are private. Mr. Polley will be interned between the cushions of his living room couch, family sources revealed.
I got my first TV with a remote control in 2002. My previous TV was purchased in 1980 and was still working well when we disposed of it in 2004.
I don’t know how we lived without it. Seriesly. I’m not lazy, but when I become one with the couch after a long day, especially in the winter, I don’t want to get up!
Thank you, remote guy.
—— The best part wasn’t the metallic thunking sound, but the way the TV channel dial was turned by an electric motor and a gear. Like activating a small automobile starter, wirelessly.-——
I envied the kids who had color TVs, especially the kids who had (gasp) a remote control!
Our family got a color console TV when I was in high school (mid 1970s). In those days I remember the Wizard of OZ came on onece a year. I had seen it several times so never watched it in high school. When I got to college they showed it at a free flick night. A bunch of us from the dorm went to see it. I had always thought it was all in black and white, which is how I’d always seen it. I was SHOCKED (audibly) when, out of nowhere, Dorothy stepped out of her house in the land of OZ to full color. For some reason I will never forget that.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.