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TV Remote Control Inventor Eugene Polley, 1915-2012

CHICAGO May 21, 2012 Eugene J. Polley

May 20 Downers Grove, Ill.

His inventions, primarily in the field of television, earned 18 U.S. patents. Mr. Polley’s best known invention, the "Flash-Matic" remote control, was the world’s first wireless TV remote, introduced in 1955. It used a flashlight-like device to activate photo cells on the television set to change channels.

Mr. Polley worked his way up from the stockroom to the parts department, where he produced Zenith’s first catalog, and then on to his long career in the engineering department.

During World War II, as part of Zenith’s commitment to the war effort, Mr. Polley worked on radar advances for the U.S. Department of Defense.  Mr. Polley also worked on the push-button radio for automobiles and on the development of the video disk, predecessor of today’s DVD.

Over the years, Mr. Polley held key technology positions at Zenith, including as Product Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, Head of Video Recording Group, Advanced Mechanical Design Group and Assistant Division Chief for the Mechanical Engineering Group.

Robert Adler

Eugene J. Polley Chicago Nov. 29, 1915 Chicago Lombard, Ill.

Eugene J. Polley Jr. San Diego, Calif. Joan Polley

May 22 5-8 p.m. Lombard, Ill. May 23 10 a.m. Lombard Wheaton


Gene Polley

Few would dispute the enormous impact of this invention, devised in an era of three or four VHF broadcast TV stations in most markets. Today, remote control is not a luxury but a necessity in navigating 500-plus digital cable or digital satellite channels, or controlling an HDTV, Blu-Ray Disc player, digital video recorder or home theater audio system – all at the touch of a button.

Gene Polley

Eugene F. McDonald Jr.

Robert Adler

the United States

SOURCE Zenith Electronics LLC

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