Father of the TV Remote Control Dead at 93

I am a big fan of This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Mainly because I get to hear quippy commentary from George Will during the round table portion of the show. But they also have a section of the show called “In Memoriam” which reviews the “important” people who died that week, and displays the total number and list of soldiers names who have passed away in Iraq and Afghanistan during the week.

This month they listed a little-known person named Robert Adler, who literally changed my life. Co-inventor of the TV remote control, Robert Adler was quoted at a later point in life as saying “This thing has so many buttons. I don’t know what most of them are for and frankly I could not care less.” Proof that the people who invent the technology are not always the first to value its use. Zenith has a great write-up on Rober Adler’s work for them.

Last night I adjusted my Select Comfort bed’s Sleep Number with a remote control. This morning I awakened my Mac Mini computer using the remote control which came with it. I used the TV remote to turn on the TV which the Mac uses for the display, before using my Apple wireless mouse and keyboard. As I walked to my car in the apartment parking lot, I opened and closed our garage with a remote control to get some things I needed. I unlocked my car security system using a remote control. Tonight when I go home, I will use a remote to open the security gate of the apartment complex in which I live. When I am at my buddies later in the night, we no doubt will use his TiVo remote a hundred times during Lost and last week’s The Office episodes.

The remote is an integral part of my life that I take for granted. I grew up with it, so I use it without much thought in the same way kids use cell phones today as an extension of their person. Sure, Robert Adler was just one of the ones who perfected the idea, and now it takes on many different forms using many different wireless technologies (Adler’s used ultrasonic waves). Still, the convenience the remote control brings to my life makes the original nickname Zenith used way back in 1950 of “Lazy Bones” a really great tag for its presence in my life. Thanks Robert Adler. You made things easier on all of us!

Posted in Design, Programming

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