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John Logie Baird: the Man Who Invented Television
Memorial of John Logie Baird
The Inventor of Television
John Logie Baird will always be remembered as the man who invented television.
While it is true that subsequent scientific developments and refinements in technology later dwarfed his original idea, it is only right that John Logie Baird is still given credit for the invention of the television.
It was his early experiments in a small laboratory he had put together in the attic rooms of his London apartment that lead to the first successful transmission of primitive, moving, gray-scale images. The details of the mechanisms would later be radically changed, but he was the first person to broadcast a live moving image.
He had not been alone in making the attempt.
The German inventor, Arthur Korn, was close on his tail. In October of 1906 he had been able to live broadcast a still, black-and-white image of a photograph. The broadcast was remarkable because it happened over a distance of over one thousand miles. It was an incredible achievement at the time. However, Korn never managed to figure out how to send a live, moving image.
There was another German, by name of Paul Gottlieb Nipkow, who had invented a method of transmitting a fuzzy, static image.
The live moving image was the Holy Grail that these knights of science were seeking. It was John Logie Baird who would find it.
The Site of the First Television Demonstration
John Logie Baird: Electrocution and Eviction!
During the early nineteen twenties, John Logie Baird had rooms and a small laboratory in the sea-side town of Hastings, just on the south coast from London in the UK.
It was in that laboratory that he first succeeded in projecting, by televisual means, a moving silhouette across the walls.
Unfortunately, during a later experiment he electrocuted himself quite badly. Tinkering later at night with one of his instruments he took a shock of over one thousand volts. Not only did this leave him shaken and lucky to be alive but it also blew out the fuse box in the entire building.
The landlord had been suspicious for some time of the strange goings on in the curious Scottish gentleman's apartment and he was politely asked to leave.
It was after that that he moved to a more modest - and perhaps less particular - accommodation in Soho, London. There is now a blue plaque on the building which commemorates his invention.
First Public Television Broadcast
John Logie Baird's First Demonstration of 'The Televisor'
In his new apartment, John Logie Baird continued his researches and experiments.
He knew he was close to a breakthrough and spent many hours late into the night carefully refining and adjusting his apparatus.
Success finally smiled on him and on October 25th, 1925 he was able to transmit his first moving, gray-scale image. The image that he transmitted was of a talking ventriloquist's dummy.
This was the first time that any such feat had been achieved. Unfortunately, he was alone in his laboratory at the time and his eyes were the only ones to witness it. However, he did take photographs of the images, although I have been unable to obtain rights to reproduce them here.
He called his invention 'The Televisor.'
Baird demonstrated his first apparatus, which he named 'the televisor' to an audience of enthralled witnesses on June 16th, 1926.
None of them imagined just what an impact his invention would have on the modern world.
What Was the First Television Picture Like?
The first images that John Logie Baird managed to broadcast were very primitive compared to today's technology.
They were composed of only thirty vertical lines (rather than the millions of pixels that now make up our images).
The image was 'refreshed' (to create the illusion of movement) about five times every second, although by the time he made his first public demonstration, John Logie Baird had got that figure up to twelve and a half times per second!
The first images were quite poor in terms of clarity but no less astonishing for that.
The First Domestic Television
The First Public Demonstration of Television.
After his success that night in October, John Logie Baird went on to invite a special audience of fifty people to squeeze into his attic laboratory to witness a demonstration of his invention.
Among the guests at this historic event were scientists from The Royal Institution and a number of press reporters.
Baird showed them the transmission apparatus and gave an explanation of how the technology worked.
Then he transmitted live images of the same ventriloquist's dummy and his assistant - moving and speaking!
Color Television and Simultaneous Sound Broadcast.
That demonstration was only the beginning. Over subsequent years, Baird worked hard on further improving and developing his mechanisms.
He managed to transmit images over ever longer distances, achieving the first transatlantic broadcast in 1928.
He became the pioneer of color television, too. He was even showing the first experimental color television images as early as 1928.
By 1930 he had managed to develop a system for broadcasting simultaneous sound along with the images.
Television had truly been born.
Working Reconstruction of the First Television
How Did the First Television Work?
The first television was mechanical in design. The camera used a spinning disk punctured with holes that swept a narrow spiral of light over the subject.
The light was reflected onto a photoelectric cell. The cell outputted electrical signals of varying intensity depending on the intensity of the light. The subject had to sit in a dark booth.
The receiver picked up these impulses and transferred them to a neon lamp. The lamp brightened and darkened according to the impulses received. The light was cast through an identical spinning disk to that of the transmitter.
So a small, fuzzy image was projected onto a screen.
Early Television System Diagram
The Beginnings of Commercial Television
Television was exploited commercially almost immediately after its invention.
The earliest commercial broadcasts all used the same mechanical technology that John Logie Baird had pioneered.
However, once the dollars started to roll, the technology was rapidly advanced.
By the 1930s EMI and Marconi had become the market leaders and had invested a lot of money on the development of the superior electronic television.
The last broadcast using Baird's system was made by the BBC in 1937.
John Logie Baird: Later Career
Baird continued to make many important contributions to the development of television.
He not only devised the new cathode ray system, but he also outlined the first method for making 3D television!
In 1944 he presented to the world the very first color television set.
He died in 1946.
His invention completely transformed modern life, how we communicate, how we see each other and the world and how we spend out time.
I wonder what he would have made of the content of modern broadcasting.
John Logie Baird and His Televisionin a Nutshell
August 13, 1888
Transmits moving silhouette
Transmits ventriloquist dummy - the first moving image
First Public Demonstration
First transatlantic transmission
London to New York
UK & USA
June 14, 1946
Rare Footage of John Logie Baird - on Television!
Did you learn something interesting in this hub?
I hope that you have enjoyed finding out about John Logie Baird and the invention of television as much as I have.
I am sure that he would have been astonished by the universal spread of his invention to all corners of the Earth and the impact that it has had, both good and bad, on the development of modern society.
If you would like to explore this topic further, there are some links to useful resources below.
Please take a moment to answer the poll before you go. Thank you!
Find out more about John Logie Baird
- How to build a Baird Televisor
How to build your own Baird Televisor!
- HowStuffWorks;How Television Works
Television is often taken for granted, but the box that brings TV shows into your home is an amazing device. Find out what\'s going on inside a TV set.
- Baird Television
A site about the history of television, presently focusing on the television pioneering work of John Logie Baird
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© 2013 Amanda Littlejohn