Robert Adler, Co-Inventor of Remote Control, Dies at 93
Dr. Robert Adler, who co-invented the wireless remote control for television, died of heart failure on Feb. 15 in Boise, Idaho. He was 93.
After receiving his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Vienna in 1937, Adler emigrated to the U.S. and began his six-decade career with Zenith Electronics in 1941, when he joined Zenith’s research division. He was named associate director in 1952, vice president in 1959, and vice president and director of research in 1963. He retired as research vice president in 1979, but served Zenith as a technical consultant until 1999, when Zenith merged with LG Electronics.
In addition to the remote, Adler was responsible for many other significant scientific contributions to the electronics industry, including landmark inventions in the field of consumer products and in sophisticated specialized communications equipment, said LG.
“Bob Adler was an unparalleled technical contributor, leader, adviser and teacher,” said Jerry K. Pearlman, a retired Zenith chairman and CEO who had known Adler for 35 years. “His gifts and passions were many, his mentoring matchless and his ego totally nonexistent.”
Over the course of his career, Adler earned more than 180 U.S. patents. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published his most recent patent application, for advances in touchscreen technology, on February 1.
Adler and fellow Zenith engineer Eugene Polley invented the Space Command ultrasonic remote control for TV sets, which Zenith introduced in 1956. Two years later, Adler received the Outstanding Technical Achievement Award of the Institute of Radio Engineers (now the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE) for the invention.
Among Adler’s other work was the gated-beam tube, a major advancement in the field of vacuum tubes that “greatly simplified the sound system in television receivers, markedly improving reception by screening out certain types of sound interference while lowering the cost of the sound channel,” said LG.