Dr. Robert Adler, co-inventor of the TV remote control, died Feb. 15 in Boise, Idaho. He was 93.
Along with Gene Polley, Adler was honored with a Broadcasting & Cable Technology Leadership Award in 2006 (see "Palm Pilots," 4/24/06).
Working at Zenith (now LG Electronics) in the 1950s, the two pursued different paths toward what has become a ubiquitous device. Adler concentrated on ultra sound technology, then being used in garage-door openers.
His Space Command remote contained a series of tiny aluminum rods struck by a metal ball to generate a soundwave inaudible to human ears but capable of controlling the TV set.
About the size of a deck of cards, it made a clicking sound when the ball hit the aluminum tubes, which is why many people still refer to remotes as "clickers."
Zenith opted for his technology, and it became the industry standard for a quarter century, until the advent of infrared technology.
The remote wasn't Adler's only invention. In all, he collected 180 patents.
An electronics engineer, Adler was Zenith's VP of research when he retired in 1979. He served as a consultant until Zenith merged with LG in 1999.
Adler is survived by his wife, Ingrid Koch Adler.