Shalom Life | April 18, 2014

My Olympic Channel-Surfing Prowess Made Possible by a Jewish Inventor

The late Robert Adler credited with the first wireless TV remote

By: Daniel Horowitz

Published: July 31st, 2012 in Business » World

My Olympic Channel-Surfing Prowess Made Possible by a Jewish Inventor

It was during a particularly exhausting evening recently where I , equipped with my television remote control, bag of Israeli sunflower seeds, and Diet Coke, was forced to perform some physically demanding channel surfing as I switched back and forth from a baseball game, to NBC’s Olympic coverage, to CTV’s better Olympic coverage, and back again.

Man, good thing I had stretched prior to this aerobic activity, lest I pull something.

Anyway, it was during my frantic surfing when I thought to myself, “Hmm, I wonder who I can thank for making this evening possible, without me being forced to (Gasp!) actually get my ass off my couch, and walk those two steps to the set, where I would have to turn the channels manually.”

Manually? Are you kidding? Haven’t our people been through enough already!?

Anyway, as fate would have it, I found that the man credited with the modern day television remote was a Jewish Zenith employee by the name of Robert Adler.

And, while Mr. Adler departed this world at the age of 93 back in 2007, his invention, which began life as somewhat of a whimsical novelty but has since grown into an almost necessity thanks to more than 100 channels, continues to thrive in homes across the globe.

A physicist with 180 patents to his name, Adler was born in 1913 in Vienna and left Austria after the Germans took over the country. He came to the US in the early 1940s where he was hired by Zenith.

Adler is credited with improving on an earlier wireless TV remote known as the Flash-Matic, designed by a fellow Zenith employee, Eugene Polley. Unfortunately, that device had some issues with sunlight which, when shone on a TV screen, would see channels change, and the set go on and off, all by itself.

Enter Adler. His next incarnation of the device, known as the futuristic sounding Space Command, used high frequency sound waves that could not be heard by humans. Unfortunately, the Space Command, like its predecessor, was also far from perfect, as its functions could be set off by the sound of jangling keys or coins. Still, it was better and more reliable, and remained the standard until today's infrared remotes were introduced in the early 1980s.

So, to you, Mr. Adler, I thank you for making me the Gold Medalist in the Couch Potato Olympics I am today, and as I prepare for another evening in front of the TV watching the London Games and a baseball game from somewhere, I raise my remote in your honour!

Startup Club: Bitstrips Startup Club: Bitstrips TrendingGoogle's Modular Phone Will Change the Mobile Industry Google's Modular Phone Will Change the Mobile Industry TrendingIsrael's Bagir Valued At Nearly $47 Million Israel's Bagir Valued At Nearly $47 Million Trending
 

Breakthrough Jew - Seth Kushner

April 17, 2014 | By Sarah Bauder
Breakthrough Jew - Seth Kushner

Kushner is an award-winning photographer and creator of 'Schmuck', a graphic novel.

Read More

Pro-Russians Handing Out Pamphlets Ordering Jews to 'Register' or Face Deportation

April 17, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Pro-Russians Handing Out Pamphlets Ordering Jews to 'Register' or Face Deportation

Separatists living in Eastern Ukraine have denied passing official-looking documents

Read More

Seth Rogen Calls Nancy Grace a “F*cking Dumbass” Over Anti-Marijuana Comments

April 17, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Seth Rogen Calls Nancy Grace a “F*cking Dumbass” Over Anti-Marijuana Comments

The 'Neighbors' star insulted the HLN host on Twitter after a number of posts with the #PotToBlame hashtag

Read More

Neo-Nazi Clothing Store Opens Next to Chief Rabbi’s Office

April 17, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Neo-Nazi Clothing Store Opens Next to Chief Rabbi’s Office

Thor Steinar clothes are on sale in the Viking Thor Shop in Jewish London neighborhood

Read More

A White House Seder: Chef Vered Guttman Makes Passover Healthy

April 17, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
A White House Seder: Chef Vered Guttman Makes Passover Healthy

Chef Guttman opted for quinoa and kale, earning praise from the First Lady

Read More

Hitler Wine For Sale at Glasgow Auction

April 17, 2014 | By Shaleni McBain
Hitler Wine For Sale at Glasgow Auction

The rare bottle of 'Fuhrerwein' is expected to fetch nearly US $3,500, though experts say it's not safe for drinking

Read More

Tel Aviv Named 'Best Beach Party Spot on Planet'

April 17, 2014 | By Viva Sarah Press
Tel Aviv Named 'Best Beach Party Spot on Planet'

Israel's White City triumphs over Cape Town, Ibiza, Goa and even Phuket as the world's No. 1 sun-water-sand destination

Read More

Meet the Israelis Looking to Arrive on Mars

April 17, 2014 | By Margarita Erbach
Meet the Israelis Looking to Arrive on Mars

The Mars One Project hopes to colonize Mars, and has offered four crews the chance to win a one-way ticket to the red planet

Read More

More Headlines