From the Atlantic:
Eugene Polley, inventor of the first wireless television remote control, died last month at 96. Polley, an engineer at Zenith, named his device Flash-Matic. It was introduced in 1955. In his New York Times obituary, the purpose of the gadget was described in an advertisement this way: "Without budging from your easy chair you can turn your new Zenith Flash-Matic set on, off, or change channels. You can even shut off annoying commercials while the picture remains on the screen." More than a half-century later, engineers in cahoots with viewers are still working out ways to minimize the intrusion of commercials.