The BBC has an obituary of Eugene Polley, who has died at the age of 96, who it calls the inventor of the TV remote control.
His Flash-Matic invention is I believe the Control system patent, filed in 1955. Its main image is given below.
I must admit that I had thought the key patent was Robert Adler's patent, also called Control system, and also for Zenith Radio. It was filed in 1957. The main drawing is below.
Unlike the Polley invention, which involved photocells, the Adler invention sent ultrasonic signals to turn the TV on or off, change channels, or turn the volume up or down.
In 1985 was filed the Universal remote control unit by NAP Consumer Electronics, which was apparently a big advance in the concept. It used infrared LEDs.
What was definitely not a useful idea was the Extensible television controls, filed in 1955 by the great industrial designer Raymond Loewy, who on this occasion had one of his less practicable ideas.