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"In 1970 I found little difficulty staying 30 years ahead of the man in the street, and now I find it difficult to stay 18 months ahead of the man on the street."
- Vernor Vinge

Adnix  
  A device that muted the television to lessen the impact of commercials.  

Billionaire S.R. Hadden made his money the old-fashioned way; he uncovered services that people wanted, and he developed technology to give it to them.

Years before, he had invented a module that, when a television commercial appeared, automatically muted the sound. It wasn't at first a context-recognition device. Instead, it simply monitored the amplitude of the carrier wave... Before there could be any coordinated response from the television advertising industry, Adnix had become wildly popular. It forced advertisers and networks into new choices of carrier-wave strategy, each of which Hadden countered with a new invention... It was a kind of electronic warfare. And he was winning.
From Contact, by Carl Sagan.
Published by Not known in 1985
Additional resources -

The networks were not satisfied with mere technical challenges to their supremacy, of course:

They tried to sue him - something about a conspiracy in restraint of trade...

Thanks to Randall Glenn for pointing this item out.

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