Chris Neary is a producer for On the Media.
In Memory of A Device and Its Inventor
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - 03:36 PM
Growing up, I called it a 'clicker.' Most everyone else, I was sternly told in college, called it a 'remote control.' 'Remote control' still sounds too clinical for something that's been such a big part of your life. On Sunday the inventor of the remote control, Eugene Polley, died. I not sure that the remote control was as crucial to the development of television as the mouse was to computers, but both inventions made two of the most important screens in our lives more malleable, more useful. Channels 13 thru 755 owe a great debt to Polley.
His initial invention looked more like a gun than the remote controls we're familiar with. Today, it seems like the remote control's days may be numbered. As TV's and computers begin to look and act more and more like each other, physically pointing something at a television to change a channel could be unnecessary soon.
One thing that Polley is tangentially responsible for is still going strong, however. I'm talking about the career of Adam Sandler, whose first major public exposure was on an early 90's MTV game show named for Polley's wonderful invention.