Birthday: August 13, 1888
Nationality: British, Scottish
Died At Age: 57
Sun Sign: Leo
Born Country: Scotland
Born in: Helensburgh
Famous as: Engineer
Spouse/Ex-: Margaret Albu
father: John Baird
children: Diana Baird, Malcom Baird
Died on: June 14, 1946
place of death: Bexhill-on-Sea
discoveries/inventions: Mechanical Television
education: Larchfield Academy, University of Glasgow, Royal College of Science and Technology, Lomond School, University of Strathclyde
Who was John Logie Baird?
John Logie Baird FRSE was a Scottish engineer who is known as ‘The Father of Television’. He was an innovator who invented the first successful mechanical television, the first publicly demonstrated colour television system and the first purely electronic colour television picture tube. At quite a young age he depicted a flair for electronics; he had tested and tried remote-controlled photography and also rigged a telephone exchange to connect his house to those of his nearby friends. In his teens he read a German book on the photoelectric properties of selenium which inspired him about the concept of television. This dream turned into a possible-reality when he heard of Arthur Korn’s fantastic achievement. Korn had successfully invented a circuit which could transmit fax pictures over any required distance and Baird tried to follow the concept for live or moving pictures. Baird successfully transmitted a long-distance television signal (438 miles) from London to Glasgow through a telephone line. Soon other achievements followed: he demonstrated the first transatlantic transmission through his Baird Television Development Company Ltd, the first stereoscopic television and video recording device. Other than television he made remarkable contributions to the fields of fibre optics, radio imaging, secret signaling, and infra-red scanning.
Childhood & Early Life
John Logie Baird was born on August 13, 1888 in Helensburgh, Scotland, as the fourth, and youngest child of the Reverend John Baird and Jessie Morrison Inglis.
He received his schooling from the Larchfield Academy in Helensburgh before going to the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College in 1906 to study electrical engineering. The First World War broke out before he could graduate.
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John Logie Baird was not accepted for the military service due to his chronic illness and therefore he worked for the Clyde Valley Electrical Power Company for a while. After the war ended he tried several unsuccessful businesses and then went to Britain in 1920.
Arthur Korn in the first decade of 1900 had invented the first successful signal-conditioning circuit for image transmission that could send fax pictures by telephone/wireless even over oceans. Baird implemented the same mechanism for television.
He moved to Hastings in 1923 and rented a workshop where he made the world’s first working TV using an old hatbox, pair of scissors, darning needles, bicycle light lenses, tea chest, sealing wax and glue.
In 1924 at the office of Radio Times he successfully demonstrated a semi-mechanical analogue television by transmitting moving silhouette images. Later that year he received a severe electric shock in his workshop. The landlord asked him to vacate the place and Baird headed to London.
His first public demonstration of the moving images by television was at the Selfridges departmental store in Soho, London in 1925, followed by a series of demonstrations over a period of three-weeks.
His first successfully transmitted television picture was a grayscale image; a 30-line vertically scanned image sent at five pictures per second. In order to announce this invention to the public he went to the office of the ‘Daily Express’, but was ousted.
By 1926 he had improved the scan rate to 12.5 pictures per second and then he demonstrated it to the members of the Royal Institution and a reporter from ‘The Times’ in his laboratory. The audience witnessed live moving images with tone graduation.
In 1927, he transmitted the world’s first long-distance (438 miles) television pictures to the Central Hotel at Glasgow from London through a telephone line.
He achieved the feat of colour transmission in 1928 by using scanning discs at the transmitting and receiving ends with three spirals of aperture. The spirals contained filters of three different primary colours and three light sources at the receiving end. A commutator was responsible for alternating the illumination.
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He formed the Baird Television Development Company Ltd and in 1928 the company made the first transatlantic television transmission from London to New York.
Baird and Bernard Natan founded France’s first television company in 1929 and named it Television-Baird-Natan. The company’s first live transmission was of the Epsom Derby in 1931.
In 1930, he demonstrated a theatre TV system with the dimensions of two feet by five feet at the London Coliseum, Berlin, Stockholm and Paris. Within the decade he improved and modified this system into a projection system, which could televise on a 15 feet by 12 feet screen.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) began using Baird’s system for the first public television service in 1932. But in 1937 the BBC stopped broadcasting through the Baird system after the Baird facility at Crystal Palace caught fire and switched to the Marconi-EMI version.
John Logie Baird is known as the ‘Father of Television’ as he played a major role in the invention of the mechanical television that transmitted moving silhouette images and was the inventor of the first publicly demonstrated colour television system.
Awards & Achievements
In 2014 the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) inducted him into The Honor Roll which ‘posthumously recognizes individuals who were not awarded Honorary Membership during their lifetimes but whose contributions would have been sufficient to warrant such an honor’.
Personal Life & Legacy
John Logie Baird married Margaret Albu in 1931 and together they had two children, Diana and Malcolm.
He suffered a stroke in February 1946 and passed away on 14 June 1946, at the age of 57.
Australian television’s Logie Awards are named in his honour.