I was sitting in my car this morning changing the radio station from rock music to news by pushing a button. I then heard that Eugene Polley died at the age of 96 from natural causes. Polley is the inventor of the wireless remote control. What made my morning quite ironic is that Polley also helped invent the push button radio when he worked for Zenith Electronics.
Polley has claimed for years that his invention can be compared to the wheel. No one knows who invented the wheel, but everyone should remember who invented the remote control because this device, in my mind, is the most powerful device on the Earth. You can forget about the nuclear football (a device that triggers a nuclear attack by the President of the U.S.) or the smartphone because there is no device more important and more sought after by males and females as the TV remote.
I can tell you I’ve had more heated battles in my life over the remote control than any fights I had in the school yard, on the gridiron or pitch, in the boardroom, or differences with channel chiefs or CEOs.
When I have control of the remote there is harmony in my life and in the world. This is why one of the best high tech product names on the market is the Harmony remote from Logitech.
I agree with Polley that the remote control is as important as the wheel. The wheel gave mankind transportation and manufacturing. It also helped improve agriculture and the development of the clock and other timepieces. Meanwhile the remote control brought about the 500 channel universe and with that came 24-hour news, sports and weather. You can argue if the public is more informed because of this device or not but the fact remains that if you had to get up off your sofa to change the channel a 500-station world would be a non-starter.
In fact, one of my first duties as a child was to sit next to the TV and twist a dial upon the orders of my father and older brother.
There is a true sense of power when I have the remote in my hand and conversely I feel a sense of loss and hopelessness when my wife or kids have the remote. They say you can’t help how you feel and today learning that Eugene Polley has passed on I do feel a sense of loss. Until tonight, of course, when I pick up the TV remote to watch the Toronto Blue Jays defeat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Former Cisco Canada President Pierre Paul Allard has left Cisco for arch-rival Avaya. This has become a growing trend lately if you ask me. The optics here are hard to overlook. Cisco executives are leaving for Avaya. Maybe we should call Avaya Cisco-lite.
Speaking of Avaya Alan Baratz, the company’s top technology evangelist has left along with senior vice president Mohammad Ali. Both have left Avaya for undisclosed reasons.