Dear Mr. Adler,
Can I call you, Robert? Great, thanks. First, let me say that amassing 180 U.S. Patents and the “Edison Medal” during your 93-years on this planet is quite the accomplishment. Or rather, was—your death in 2007, regrettably, did not get the global “moment of silence” it so richly deserved.
Robert Adler, your obscurity is both inexplicable and inexcusable.
It’s a crime that more people don’t know your name, sir. Most Americans have heard of Einstein, Tesla, and Jobs, despite them only having had a minor impact on people’s daily lives. But you, Mr. Adler—sorry, Robert—your genius changed everyone’s world forever. Without advances like yours, mankind would still be running around in loincloths and pooping in the woods.
Are you the world’s greatest inventor? Yes.
I’m writing to you today, Mr. Adler, regarding perhaps your invention, the “Space Command.” (Did you come up with that name or did Marketing? Just curious.) Anywhoo, I just wanted you to know—posthumously, at least—the impact that invention had on me. Frankly, it saved my life.
In the ’70s, America had extremely lax child-labor laws.
Like many children of Depression Era parents, I was put to work at an early age. Not mining coal, manufacturing textiles, or testing experimental pharmaceuticals like some other kids. No, my forced-labors put me at risk for ocular ruination and “brain rot” according to my mother. Against my will, I was tasked with changing the TV channel anytime an adult ordered it. And I firmly believe that my father only had kids for this express purpose.
The dark days of television lasted far too long.
Jumping up to change the channel every five minutes was a Sisyphusian task—as you well know, Robert—made worse by the fact that it had to be done with care. Turn the knob too fast, too hard, or at all, and it broke off in your hand. Take too long to find pliers during the commercial break, and you risked getting sent to bed early. It was a hostile work environment and, in hindsight, my siblings and I should’ve unionized.
Knobs?! We don’t need no estinkin’ knobs!
Your “clicker”—a much catchier name than Space Command, fwiw—revolutionized the industry so entirely that televisions with knobs are neither built nor sold anywhere in the world. As a result, my family’s next TV purchase included a remote control, freeing me from the shackles of channel-surfing servitude. That remote allowed me to pursue my life’s true passion—namely, binge-watching TV motionlessly until I start to drool.
Ugh, this is boring. What else is on?
Unfortunately, your incredible invention and its progeny, ushered in a new level of global laziness. And we’ve since learned that the “Couch Potato” lifestyle you spawned correlates with higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, stroke, and heart attack. But at least, now, we won’t have to sit through Brady Bunch reruns while we’re coding in an ICU bed.
And for that, Mr. Adler, a grateful world thanks you.
Founder, The CrosbyReport™
Photo by Cullen Jennifer