Shalom Life | March 27, 2015

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!

Facebook Integrates Israeli App into Messenger Facebook Integrates Israeli App into Messenger TrendingToronto's Iconic Pancer’s Deli To Reopen Toronto's Iconic Pancer’s Deli To Reopen TrendingDisney Producing Animated Series in Jerusalem? Disney Producing Animated Series in Jerusalem? Trending
 

Shortly Before they Died in Brooklyn Fire, the Sassoon Children Recorded This Emotional Song [VIDEO]

March 27, 2015 | By Tali Farkash & Liron Nagler-Cohen
Shortly Before they Died in Brooklyn Fire, the Sassoon Children Recorded This Emotional Song [VIDEO]

Song is their own version of Hasidic singer Yaakov Shwekey's hit "Cry No More"

Read More

Facebook Integrates Israeli App into Messenger

March 26, 2015 | By NoCamels Team
Facebook Integrates Israeli App into Messenger

Social media giant incorporates Magisto, an app that turns photos and videos into a short animated film

Read More

Toronto's Iconic Pancer’s Deli To Reopen

March 26, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Toronto's Iconic Pancer’s Deli To Reopen

The deli, which was sold five years ago and closed earlier this year, is back in Pancer's hands and won't be leaving them any time soon

Read More

Israeli Scientists Accurately Determine The Length Of A Day On Saturn

March 26, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Israeli Scientists Accurately Determine The Length Of A Day On Saturn

Using a new technique, a team of scientists from the Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute have found a way to study the passing of time in other planets of the solar system

Read More

Harvey Weinstein Takes Home Humanitarian Award, Urges Jews To Kick anti-Semites "in the Ass”

March 26, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Harvey Weinstein Takes Home Humanitarian Award, Urges Jews To Kick anti-Semites "in the Ass”

During his acceptance speech during the Simon Wiesenthal Center's National Tribute Dinner, Weinstein asked people to stand up against violence and oppression

Read More

Meet Shalom Life's Top 20 Under 40, Class of 2015

March 26, 2015 | By Daniel Koren
Meet Shalom Life's Top 20 Under 40, Class of 2015

Profiling the best and the brightest of Jewish Toronto

Read More

Jason Segel Tapped to Write/Direct New 'Lego' Movie

March 26, 2015 | By Sy Berg
Jason Segel Tapped to Write/Direct New 'Lego' Movie

Segel, who helped Disney revive 'The Muppets', will work alongside 'Iron Man 3' writer Drew Pearce

Read More

Parents, Widow of Fallen IDF Soldier Battle Over Custody of His Sperm

March 26, 2015 | By Yoram Yarkoni
Parents, Widow of Fallen IDF Soldier Battle Over Custody of His Sperm

Groundbreaking ruling awards parents of Israeli soldier right to use his sperm to father a child, despite his widow's objections

Read More

More Headlines