Robert Adler

Inventor / Developer of Wireless Remote Control


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his nearly two-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, Dr. Robert Adler (1913-2007) speaks in great detail about his pioneering work as the developer of the first practical wireless television remote control (co-invented with fellow Zenith engineer Eugene Polley). Adler outlines his long association with Zenith, which began shortly after he emigrated to the United States in 1940. He discusses the evolution of the remote control's invention at Zenith, which began with an attached remote box and cable. He talks about the impractical light-activated wireless versions that preceded his ultrasonic (and practical) version. He describes the theory behind his invention as well as its technical specifications. Adler then discusses other key innovations in television to which he contributed. He also talks about the research department at Zenith and details its makeup and functions. He then talks about his involvement in current technologies, including touch screen and HDTV. B-roll consists of cover shots and illustrations from journal articles regarding some of his most significant work. Karen Herman conducted the interview on October 11, 2004 in Chicago, IL.

"I think a large part of the public said, 'An extra $100? For that, I can get up from my chair!' So [the first remote control] was never a large percentage of the sets sold."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Robert Adler on going to work for Zenith 
Robert Adler on how the development of the remote control came about for Zenith
Robert Adler on Zenith's place in television history
Robert Adler on developing the video laser disc, which would eventually become the DVD
Robert Adler on advice to aspiring television scientists and inventors
Robert Adler on getting an Emmy Award for his invention, and on the then-future of the remote control
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on the dissertation for his PhD; on coming to the United States in 1940 and on the first time he saw television
On his first job in the United States; on comparing the technology of the United States and of Europe in the 1940s; on going to work for Zenith; on early projects he was assigned to at Zenith, and on Zenith and World War II

Chapter 2

On Zenith focusing on television after World War II; on working for Zenith head E.F. McDonald; on the state of Zenith in the late '40s
On his duties in the research department at Zenith; on the innovations that came out of Zenith's research department when he was head of it; on Zenith's acquisition of the Rauland Corporation in 1948
On how the development of the remote control came about for Zenith; on the importance to Zenith of coming up with the remote control

Chapter 3

On ultrasonic remote control devices and the battery; on how televisions received remote control signals
On remote control sets going into production and on the remote control system's name, Space Command; on how Zenith modified the remote control over the years and the popularity of the product
On his own personal use of the Space Command remote control and being dubbed the father of the remote control; on getting an Emmy Award for his invention, and on the then-future of the remote control; on his management style as director of research at Zenith and becoming a vice president

Chapter 4

On being head of the research facility at Zenith in the 1940s; on Zenith dealing with competitors and on selecting the projects his team at Zenith worked on; on working on the gated beam while at Zenith
On Zenith not producing equipment for broadcasters like cameras or transmitter equipment; on Zenith working on a prototype television projection system in 1966; on developing the video laser disc, retiring from Zenith, and consulting on HDTV

Chapter 5

On precision molded plastics and touch-screen technology; on Zenith's place in television history; on the then-current state of television and the then-future of television
On advice to aspiring television scientists and inventors; on his many patents and how he'd like to be remembered
On b-roll footage of articles from his career- various articles about his inventions, about the FM transmitter, oscillators, the gated beam tube, the ultrasonic remote control, and touch-screen technology
Topics

Advice

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Robert Adler on advice to aspiring television scientists and inventors

Emmy Awards

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Robert Adler on getting an Emmy Award for his invention

Historic Events and Social Change

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Robert Adler on early projects he was assigned at Zenith and on Zenith and World War II

Pop Culture

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Robert Adler on remote control sets going into production and on the remote control system's name Space Command

Technological Innovation

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Robert Adler on Zenith focusing on television after World War II
Robert Adler on working for Zenith head E.F. McDonald
Robert Adler on the state of Zenith in the late '40s
Robert Adler on his duties in the research department at Zenith
Robert Adler on the innovations that came out of Zenith's research department when he was head of it
Robert Adler on Zenith's acquisition of the Rauland Corporation in 1948
Robert Adler on how the development of the remote control came about for Zenith
Robert Adler on the importance to Zenith of coming up with the remote control
Robert Adler on ultrasonic remote control devices and the battery
Robert Adler on remote control sets going into production and on the remote control system's name, Space Command
Robert Adler on how Zenith modified the remote control over the years and the popularity of the product
Robert Adler on his own personal use of the Space Command remote control and being dubbed the father of the remote control
Robert Adler on the then-future of the remote control
Robert Adler on being head of the research facility at Zenith in the '40s
Robert Adler on Zenith dealing with competitors and on selecting the projects his team at Zenith worked on
Robert Adler on working on the gated beam while at Zenith
Robert Adler on Zenith not producing equipment for broadcasters like cameras or transmitter equipment
Robert Adler on Zenith working on a prototype television projection system in 1966
Robert Adler on developing the video laser disc, which would eventually become the DVD
Robert Adler on retiring from Zenith to become a consultant and on the development of HDTV and touch-screen technology
Robert Adler on precision molded plastics and touch-screen technology
Robert Adler on Zenith's place in television history
Robert Adler on the then-current state of television and the then-future of television
Robert Adler on advice to aspiring television scientists and inventors 
Robert Adler on his many patents and how he'd like to be remembered 

Television Industry

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Robert Adler on how televisions received remote control signal
Robert Adler on advice to aspiring television scientists and inventors

War

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Robert Adler on early projects he was assigned at Zenith and on Zenith and World War II

World War II

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Robert Adler on early projects he was assigned at Zenith and on Zenith and World War II
Professions

Inventor

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Robert Adler on his management style as director of research at Zenith and becoming a vice president
Robert Adler on advice to aspiring television scientists and inventors

Technology Innovators

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Robert Adler on his management style as director of research at Zenith and becoming a vice president
Robert Adler on advice to aspiring television scientists and inventors

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