Shalom Life | January 30, 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!

Postcard from Einstein's Sole Trip to Israel Sells At Auction Postcard from Einstein's Sole Trip to Israel Sells At Auction TrendingIsraelis Develop 3D Metal Printer Israelis Develop 3D Metal Printer TrendingReport: Poverty in Israel Comparable to Mexico Report: Poverty in Israel Comparable to Mexico Trending
 

Postcard from Einstein's Sole Trip to Israel Sells At Auction

January 30, 2015 | By Daniel Koren
Postcard from Einstein's Sole Trip to Israel Sells At Auction

Almost a century after the physicist's trip to the Holy Land, postcard sells for $56,000

Read More

55,000-Year-Old Skull Discovered in Israel Sheds Light on First Humans in Europe

January 30, 2015 | By Daniel Koren
55,000-Year-Old Skull Discovered in Israel Sheds Light on First Humans in Europe

Skull disovered near Nahariya is "a key piece in the puzzle of human evolution"

Read More

Chelsea Handler is Topless on Camel Wearing Israeli Flag Pasties

January 29, 2015 | By Ashley Baylen
Chelsea Handler is Topless on Camel Wearing Israeli Flag Pasties

Handler's "free the nipple" campaign continues this time in Israel.

Read More

Roseanne Barr For Next Season of ‘Dancing With The Stars’?

January 29, 2015 | By Ashley Baylen
Roseanne Barr For Next Season of ‘Dancing With The Stars’?

The comedian is considering appearing on the 20th season of ABC's dancing competition.

Read More

Netflix Secures Original ‘Wet Hot American Summer’ Cast For New Series [VIDEO]

January 29, 2015 | By Ashley Baylen
Netflix Secures Original ‘Wet Hot American Summer’ Cast For New Series [VIDEO]

Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, and Amy Poehler returning for the upcoming series.

Read More

Adam Lambert Announces Album Title

January 29, 2015 | By Ashley Baylen
Adam Lambert Announces Album Title

'The Original High' was announced on Lambert's 33rd birthday.

Read More

Getting anti-Semitism Wrong at the United Nations

January 29, 2015 | By Ben Cohen, JNS.org
 Getting anti-Semitism Wrong at the United Nations

It's hard to think of another body that would organize a special meeting on the subject of rising anti-Semitism with anti-Semites not just in attendance, but making speeches as well

Read More

Israelis Develop 3D Metal Printer

January 29, 2015 | By NoCamels Team
Israelis Develop 3D Metal Printer

The revolutionary 3-D printing system is the first of its kind in Israel

Read More

More Headlines