Mr. Polley with his Flash-Matic.
This ray-gun remote control came on the market just as television sets were becoming popular in North American households.
Mr. Polley's invention wasn't the first TV remote control. In 1950, Zenith released the Lazy Bones, a device tethered to the television by a long cord. The Lazy Bones allowed viewers to change channels and turn the set on and off from their seats, but the cord proved dangerous and inelegant.
The Flash-Matic used a light beam to send signals to four receptors in the corners of the TV set. The top corners received signals to change channels; the bottom corners received signals to mute or turn off the set.
The Flash-Matic was not without problems. People couldn't remember which corner of the screen controlled what. And worse...the light sensors sometimes mistook changes in light, including sunsets and ill-placed floor lamps, for commands.
“Absolutely harmless to humans!” Flash-Matic advertisements promised. “You can even shut off annoying commercials while the picture remains on the screen!”
Looking back on his invention, Mr. Polley had mixed emotions...
“It makes me think maybe my life wasn’t wasted. Maybe I did something for humanity — like the guy who invented the flush toilet.”
“Everything has to be done remotely now or forget it. Nobody wants to get off their fat and flabby to control these electronic devices.”
2016: The Mistress test-drives the Flash-Matic and discovers she can make cocktails magically appear...
Anyone care to join me?