CHICAGO â€” A spokesman for Zenith Electronics says Eugene Polley, the inventor of the first wireless TV remote control, has died. John Taylor says the former Zenith engineer died of natural causes Sunday at a suburban Chicago hospital. He was 96. Couch potatoes everywhere have Polley to thank for hours of feet-up, channel surfing. His invention began as a luxury, but has become a necessity in an era of hundreds of TV channels and home theaters. Just ask anyone who's lost a remote. Polley's 1955 Flash-Matic pointed a beam of light at photo cells in the corners of the screen. This activated the picture and sound and changed channels. Polley and fellow Zenith engineer Robert Adler were honored in 1997 with an Emmy for their work in pioneering TV remotes.