Remote control inventor honored

When it comes to inventors, names like Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and the Wright Brothers almost immediately come to mind, along with their respective contributions to our society. Mention the name Robert Adler and it probably draws a blank. Were it not for the Chicago Television Academy's recent induction of the 81-year-old inventor into their prestigious Silver Circle for the year 2000, chances are few people would connect Robert Adler with his invention.

Yet hardly a day goes by that today's television viewers don't make use of Adler's invention. It can be found on chairs, tables and couches in most households with TVs. More than any other item you'll come across, Alder's invention has contributed to increasingly sedentary television viewing.

So what is it that Adler invented? Robert Adler is the engineer who invented the first practical wireless remote control device for TV sets, dubbed the “Space Command,” at Zenith Radio Corp. back in 1956. Adler's device used ultrasonic tones to actuate stepper motors in a TV set to turn the set on and off, change the channel, and adjust the volume.