John Logie Baird

From Academic Kids

John Logie Baird (August 14 1888June 14 1946) was a Scottish engineer, who is best known for being the first person to demonstrate a working television.

Baird was born in Helensburgh, Scotland and educated at Larchfield School, the Royal Technical College, and the University of Glasgow.

Although the development of television was the result of work by many inventors (including Baird, Paul Gottlieb Nipkow and Boris Rosing, see Television#History), Baird is one of its foremost pioneers. He is generally credited with being the first person to produce a discernable image on a television screen, and would go on to produce many other advances in the field.

In his first attempts to invent television, Baird experimented with the Nipkow disk and demonstrated that a semi-mechanical analogue television system was possible with the transmission of a static image of Felix the Cat in London in February 1924. This early system was highly primitive - images were difficult to view and transmitted only in shades of brown. On 30 October 1925 the first moving image was transmitted- the now famous grainy image of a ventriloquists dummy's head. Baird later transmitted the image of a local boy he had paid to take part in his experiments to a crowd of amazed onlookers.

The first public demonstration was in the Selfridges department store in London. The system was also demonstrated to the Royal Institution and a reporter from The Times on January 26 1926 in the Soho district of London.

In 1927 Baird transmitted a signal over 438 miles of telephone line between London and Glasgow. He then set up the Baird Television Development Company Ltd, which in 1928 made the first transatlantic television transmission from London to New York and also made the first television programme for the BBC. He televised the first live transmission of the Epsom Derby, in 1931.

From 1929 onwards, the BBC broadcasted television programs using the Baird system, alternating the broadcasts with Marconi's broadcasts of electronic scanning system television signals during the 1930s. This setup continued until the company ceased broadcasts with the Baird system, much to Baird's protest, in 1937.

Eventually, due to its many shortcomings, Baird's mechanical television system was replaced by the electronic television system described by A.A. Campbell-Swinton and later developed by Philo T. Farnsworth and Vladimir Zworykin.

Baird's numerous other developments demonstrate his particular talent at invention. He developed, in 1928, a primitive video recording device, which he dubbed Phonovision[1] ( The system consisted of a Phonodisc, which was a 78rpm record that could play a 30 line video signal. His other developments were in fibre-optics, radio direction finding, infrared night viewing and radar. There still remains, however, questions about his exact contributions to the development of radar, for his wartime defense projects have never been officially acknowledged by the British government. According to Malcolm Baird, his son, what is known is that in 1926 Baird filed a patent for a device that formed images from reflected radio waves, a device remarkably similar to radar, and that he was in correspondance with the British government at the time. Much of the information regarding Baird's work in this area is just beginning to emerge.

Baird made many other contributions to the field of television before and after his mechanical system fell into disfavor. In 1928 he demonstrated the first colour television and true stereoscopic television. In 1932 he was the first to demonstrate ultra-short wave transmission. In 1941 he demonstrated a 600 line HDTV colour system, and during 1944 he tried to persuade English authorities to adopt a 1000 line colour system as standard. He also demonstrated a big screen television system at the London Coliseum, Berlin, Paris and Stockholm.

Baird died in 1946 after suffering a stroke in February of that year, leaving behind a legacy of invention and innovation.

See also

External links

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