John Logie Baird 1888 - 1946

Television pioneer
Scottish; British
born in:
Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute, Scotland, United Kingdom

In 1922 he began to research and experiment with the problems of transmitting and receiving visual signals. By 1925 Baird was able to demonstrate the transmission of object images that had tone graduation. This was followed a year later by the world's first demonstration of television, given to the Royal Institution. Baird patented his work and set up Television Ltd (1925), Baird Television Development Company Ltd (1927), Baird International Television Ltd (1928). Between 1926 and 1931, Baird was able to demonstrate various types of television including: daylight, colour, stereoscopic, large-screen and zone, as well as low-definition noctovision and phonovision. In 1929 the BBC used Baird's 30-line system when experimenting with broadcasting and this was to be used for their television service launched in 1932. In 1937 the BBC stopped using Baird's system in favour of a 405-line system. Baird continued to experiment with television operating through Baird Television Limited. His work concentrated on large screen, colour and stereoscopic television. In 1944 he demonstrated a multi-gun colour television tube (telechrome tube) for the first time in the world; he had designed and constructed it himself.

Scottish inventor John Logie Baird was the first person to demonstrate a working television system. He was born in Helensburgh on the west coast of Scotland, and studied at the University of Glasgow, though he never graduated as his studies were interrupted by the outbreak of the First World War. After the war he started a business, but following a bout of ill health he moved to Hastings on England’s south coast in 1923.

Baird rented a workshop and set about trying to televise an image using mechanical scanning. His experiments were based on the work of a number of inventors before him, including Arthur Korn and Paul Nipkow. Baird cobbled together his apparatus - using hatboxes, scissors and knitting needles - and in 1924 was able to transmit a silhouetted image a few feet. He moved to Soho, London to continue his work.

His first demonstration of true television took place on 27 January 1926 before an audience of 50 scientists at the Royal Institution in London. By 1927 he had transmitted television over 700 km (435 miles) of telephone lines between London and Glasgow. By 1928 he had succeeded in demonstrating colour television.

Baird’s mechanical television system was employed by the BBC, though by the mid-1930s it was outperformed by electronic systems developed in the USA. He continued his research on stereoscopic and large-screen television until his death in Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex.