BAIRD TELEVISION


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This site is about John Logie Baird (1888-1946), the Scotsman who was the first person in the world to demonstrate a working television system. On January 26th, 1926, a viable television system was demonstrated using mechanical picture scanning with electronic amplification at the transmitter and at the receiver. It could be sent by radio or over ordinary telephone lines, leading to the historic trans-Atlantic transmissions of television from London to New York in February, 1928.

This site provides information not only on Baird and his life's work, but also on other pioneers of television and the development of the television industry to the present day. The What's New section is on recent events, anniversaries, publications etc. concerning Baird. The Contents list gives access to a gallery of longer articles, some of which go back to the early 1920s. At the end of Contents are the Links to information about other prominent figures in the history of television and excellent other websites on television history.

Updates are made to the site every few months by its creators Iain L. Baird and Malcolm H.I. Baird who are, respectively, the grandson and the son of J.L. Baird.


CONTENTS


(Last updated 4th October 2017)

What's new at Bairdtelevision.com?

Upcoming redesign of Bairdtelevision.com

Iain will be working on a major revamp of this website over the next few months. All existing content will be retained however the layouts and design of most pages will be updated.


On Video Game Pop Songs

Iain Baird will be presenting a paper at the Revisiting Nostalgia and the Hyperreal Symposium at Oxford Brookes this January. See below for an abstract and details of the day:

In the late 1970s, revenue was dropping across the popular music industry. The trend was directly attributed to the arrival of arcade video games. By 1980, home video game consoles and cartridges began selling in the millions, diverting further revenue from popular music. It soon became apparent that video games, having introduced a competing form of recreation for young people, were having an obsolescing effect on popular music.

While there has been significant scholarly study of video game music and sound, and of the influence of video games on popular music and film, this paper addresses the phenomenon of popular music written explicitly about video games - particularly discernible during a 'golden age' from 1978-1984. It argues that part of the music industry's reaction to the negative trend in record sales was to open a door to musicians willing to directly explore and exploit the video game craze.

Ten songs discussed in the paper represent contrasting reactions of assorted contemporary artists and music video makers to the advent of video games. Cultural theory is applied to examine how each song interpreted the video game and its culture, some songs placing the new games in nostalgic contexts, others providing musical representations of hyperreal environments.

Revisiting Nostalgia and the Hyperreal: A Symposium at Oxford Brookes
13 January 2018 - 10:00 am - 10:00 pm

Nostalgia is now a keystone in transnational popular culture - from the Instagram-framed figure of the urban hipster, the lifestyle promises of women's magazines to the re-boot of the infinitely nostalgic Star Wars franchise. Just as nostalgia haunts media culture, it has also prompted us to look back towards the cultural theory that first began flagging up the nostalgic mode of those cultural products. It has been approximately 40 years since Umberto Eco first travelled in hyperreality and Jean Baudrillard ordered the simulacra; it has been almost 20 years since Morpheus offered Neo the choice between a red or blue pill in The Matrix.

While scholarly interest in these seminal texts has trailed off somewhat, both nostalgia and the hyperreal are urgently relevant in a mediascape populated by 'fake news' and 'alternative facts.' Now, it seems, is the perfect opportunity to re-visit these modes and concepts.

This one day symposium aims to re-examine the discourse, debates, and products of the hyperreal in the light of contemporary media culture's nostalgic impulses. The day will include panel presentations and brief workshop discussion sessions. Lunch and a drinks reception will be provided.


Paul Reveley 1911-2017 - obituary by Don McLean - copied with permission from Television April 2017

The last surviving direct link with the pioneering work of John Logie Baird died on 12 March.

Up until his death in his 106th year, Paul Vernon Reveley possessed an exceptional ability to recall his direct contribution to historic television events throughout the 1930s with an accuracy that exceeded anything in print.

In conversation, Paul could transport you to that pioneering television era, providing first-hand accounts of his work as the engineer who had spent the longest time working directly for Baird. His near-perfect recall meant that discussion with him was an uncanny experience.

Paul had been not only the oldest, but the longest-standing member of the RTS, with his Fellow status approved in December 1937. He started work for Baird in February 1932 in his 21st year, after graduating in "light-current electrical engineering".

His first role was in supporting Baird's second major live TV outside broadcast. This, the 1932 Derby, was both a vision/sound simulcast using BBC transmitters as well as being linked by cable to a paying audience in the Metropole Cinema, where Paul had built, installed and operated the special video projection system.

As the senior engineer, Paul was central to the design and demonstration of Baird's projection systems, culminating in the demonstration of live, closed-circuit colour television in 1938 at London's Dominion Theatre. This was hailed at the time as the peak of excellence in TV.

The central components of that system now reside in the Science Museum. Paul held five patents in television systems.

In late 1938, Paul left the Baird Company to become assistant wireless engineer to the postmaster general of Hong Kong within the Colonial Service, eventually being incarcerated as a civilian prisoner of war by the Japanese.

After the war Paul spent the rest of his long career managing and delivering electrical services for remote communities in the Far East, mostly in British North Borneo. He returned to the UK in the 1990s, retiring at 80.

He recently featured on the BBC Four documentary Television's Opening Night: How the Box was Born, which was broadcast in November 2016, and was subsequently interviewed on Newsnight.

Paul was born on 21 July 1911 in north London, the only son of Vernon James Reveley. He died on 12 March 2017 in King's Lynn and is survived by one daughter.


IEEE Plaque Unveiling & The Evolution of Television from Baird to the Digital Age
26 & 27 January 2017

The IEEE Board of Directors approved an IEEE History Milestone Plaque to recognise the first public demonstration of television on 26th January 1926, installed in Frith Street, Soho, the unveiling ceremony held on 26th January 2017.

The IEEE UK and Ireland Section held a full-day event at the Royal Institution of Great Britain to celebrate the first public demonstration of television on 26th January 1926 at 22 Frith Street, London by John Logie Baird. The demonstration is recorded as being attended by some 40 members of the Royal Institution (RIGB).

On Friday 27th January 2017 the Royal Institution of Great Britain hosted over 150 specially invited guests to celebrate the evolution of television from Baird to the digital age. Speakers included IEEE President Karen Bartleson, Region 8 Director Margaretha Erikson, President of IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and IEEE UK and Ireland Section Chair, Ali Hessami.

Donald McLean, author of the award-winning book 'Restoring Baird's Image' explained how a poor inventor could achieve such an amazing string of 'firsts', ahead of any established corporation, commencing with the world's first demonstration of what he called 'true' television in January 1926.

Iain Logie Baird, spoke about John Logie Baird, the person. He summarised his grandfather's childhood, growing up in Helensburgh, with a fascination with science fact accompanied by a strong influence of the science fiction of HG Wells before University life in Glasgow and a brief 'conventional' working life as a young electrical engineer at the Clyde Valley Power Company.

Iain described some of John Logie Baird's successes and failures with his earlier inventions and businesses, including artificial diamonds, the Baird Undersock, a jam-making business in Trinidad, a soap business in London and inflatable insoles for shoes! But it was during his time in Hastings that he had his 'eureka' moment when he first envisaged a method for 'seeing by wireless', which pre-empted his move back up to London and a new laboratory in the attic rooms of 22 Frith Street.

Other speakers were:

- Cyril Hilsum - Formerly at RSRE Malvern and SERL - 'The UK Route to Liquid Crystal Television'
- Nick Wells - BBC R&D (retired) - 'The Revolution in TV Broadcasting - from Analogue to Digital'
- Chris Johns - Chief Engineer, Broadcast Strategy, Sky TV - 'A Look at what TV will be in the Future'
- Bill Hayes - President, IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and Director of Engineering and Technology at Iowa Public TV - 'The Impact and Future of Modern TV Related Digital Developments'

Click here for more details of the IEEE John Logie Baird Milestone Celebration including numerous photos and videos.


Andy Andrews 1912-2016 - a tribute by Malcolm Baird

"Andy" Andrews, who passed away on 19 December 2016 at the age of 104, was one of the last surviving links with the heroic early days of television.

As a teenager, Andy had served as an apprentice with B.J. Lynes, a light engineering company in Euston Road which made components for John Logie Baird according to his designs. Andy had visited Baird at his office in central London (Long Acre) and helped in the construction and testing of scanning discs. On 9 September 1935 he joined Baird Television Ltd. as an instrument maker. He was listed in the company records as E.J. Andrews but he was generally known as Andy. His starting salary was 173 pounds per annum.

In 1935, Baird Television Ltd. was controlled by Gaumont British Pictures and it had moved to the Crystal Palace, a huge glass exhibition building that dated back to 1851. The Palace stood on high ground on the south eastern outskirts of London. Its two tall water towers were ideal for the aerials for the VHF (very high frequency) transmitters that were needed for experimental high definition television. The snapshot on the right shows Andy and a colleague at the top of the South Tower. Andy is on the right of the picture.

The Baird Company is mainly remembered for its involvement with mechanical television using "flying spot" scanning; but there was also a research group working on electronic television. Andy worked with W.O. (Owen) Williams on a patented method of applying phosphorescent screen coatings to cathode ray tubes (see GB patent 47637). The picture on the left shows Owen Williams with the apparatus.

On 2 November 1936, the BBC started its high definition service from Alexandra Palace, on another hilltop site north west of London, not to be confused with the Crystal Palace. For the inaugural BBC service it was agreed that the Baird company, under its technical director Captain West, would provide the cameras on an alternating basis with its competitor Marconi-EMI Ltd. It was decided on the toss of a coin that the Baird system would be used at the start of the very first broadcast. However on 30 November, a disastrous fire destroyed the Crystal Palace and most of the Baird research facilities. In early 1937 the BBC adopted the Marconi-EMI "Emitron" camera, which somewhat resembled the Radio Corporation of America's "Iconoscope". This 405 line system was to continue in use by the BBC until 1982 when the 405 line switch off began, with transmissions finally ceasing in 1985.

Despite the fire and the rejection by the BBC, Baird Television Ltd. stayed in operation as a manufacturer of electronic receivers. They also had a strong research interest in large screen television for cinemas. Mirror drums were built by B.J. Lynes. This picture from Andy's collection shows a coaxial assembly of three mirror drums, with a handwritten note "..which we were going to use..." for demonstrations of large screen colour television at the Dominion Cinema in 1937-38. In fact, as Mr. Paul Reveley has pointed out, those demonstrations used a single mirror drum rotating at 6000 rpm in conjunction with a rotating disc of filters in two colours (orange-red and blue-green) which in combination gave lifelike colour images. Details of this ingenious and successful arrangement have been published [1,2].

Baird Television was eventually dissolved in 1939 when the BBC closed its television service for the duration of World War II.

After many many years, Andy was persuaded to go public about his experiences with Baird Television. In 2011, at the age of 99, he gave a talk to the Bliss Probus Club at Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire (see picture on left). This talk came to the attention of Kenneth Crawford of the Helensburgh Heritage Trust. He transcribed Andy's hand-written notes and the full transcript can be seen here.

In December 2016 Andy gave an informal interview to BBC local radio (Oxford) but sadly, a few days after the interview, he passed away.

References:
1. S.A. Moseley and H.J. Barton-Chapple, "Television Today and Tomorrow" 5th edition, p.148 and 164-165, Pitman Press, London (1940)
2. R.W. Burns, "John Logie Baird, Television Pioneer", History of Technology Series 28, p.339-340, Institution of Electrical Engineers, London (2000).

Acknowledgements:
I am very grateful to Andy Andrews and to his daughter Valerie for providing the historic pictures in 2012 and to Mr. Brandon D. Inglis for the information from the company records of Baird Television Ltd., and to Mr. Don McLean. I am especially grateful to my father's assistant Paul Reveley. Shortly before his death in March 2017, he reminded me of the single mirror drum design for large screen colour television.


Diana Richardson (nee Baird), 1932-2016 - Tribute written by Elizabeth Richardson for the Museum of Communication, Burntisland, on 10 July 2016 and published in their newsletter, Nov. 2016

Diana Richardson was a wonderful wife and mum. She was also John Logie Baird's daughter. Born in Hampstead in 1932, Diana moved to Sydenham where she spent the pre-war years living happily with her father, mother (Margaret Cecilia Baird - an accomplished concert pianist) and her brother Malcolm who was born in 1935. Sadly he was celebrating his birthday on the day Diana died, 2 July 2016.

During the war the family moved to Bude in Cornwall where my mum and Malcolm attended the evacuated Sandown School, which is now a hotel, but was then a boarding school, overlooking my mum's beloved Crooklets Beach. Mum's favourite place of all was the breakwater but she also loved Duckpool (Coombe Valley) where the family would go when her Mum could get petrol for the car. My Mum loved walking along the beach with her father - as she often said - because they could walk at their own pace. His magnifying glass is probably her most treasured possession.

After the war the family moved to Bexhill-on-Sea. This was a sad time because JLB was in poor health and suffered at least one stroke during that time. He died in his sleep on 14 June 1946 and my mum has waited 70 years to be reunited with him. Diana and Malcolm moved to Helensburgh in 1947 where they lived in the family home, "The Lodge", with Aunt Annie and her housekeeper Margaret Scott. After leaving school, Mum went to Glasgow University to study English and it was there that she met my Dad, Norman, both going on to Jordanhill to train as teachers after getting their degrees. Mum and Dad were perfect for each other and have given me, my brothers David and John and my children William and Katie all a fantastic start in life. John's son, Alex, holds a particularly special place in my mum's heart and he wrote a beautiful poem about her which was read at her funeral. It summed up all that she had meant to him in a few lines that captured her perfectly.

My Mum put her energies and priority into our family but she was immensely proud of her father's achievements. She was understated but remarkable in so many ways, for example translating Agatha Christie's "Death on the Nile" into Esperanto over a 5 year period, writing excellent one act plays and, in the last couple of months, completing a beautiful tapestry.

Mum didn't ever seek the limelight and gave interviews only to help her father's achievements be recognised. She took these things in her stride and played down their importance: when I lived in Edinburgh my family connections only emerged after a decade there because a Belgian TV company film crew walked down the street to my house with boom and camera to meet my Mum! The irony is that my parents never even had a TV until I was 7 and only then because my Dad's parents had bought a new one and offered their's to us. In the age of colour TV, BBC 2 and STV, we could only get BBC 1!

The Museum of Communication meant a lot to my Mum and my parents have enjoyed every visit to your meetings and AGMs. The work you are doing there to highlight all aspects of early forms of communication and the ground breaking achievements of individuals, like my grandfather, is crucial. It is valued greatly by families like us who are fortunate enough to have had inventors or pioneers amongst our number.

My Mum died suddenly last Saturday having spoken to my Dad some 90 minutes earlier from Monklands Hospital where she had been admitted overnight. She left us without a fanfare, just as she had lived and is now with God, her beloved father John Logie Baird and, we hope, a huge assortment of the various cats she's had over the years!

Diana took an immense interest in the Museum's portrayal of television history, in particular her father's work.


John Logie Baird honoured by SMPTE

On August 26 2014 the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) announced that John Logie Baird has been inducted to their Honour Roll. This is welcomed by the Baird family because it marks a significant US recognition of Baird, who has been briefly dismissed by some American television historians. The SMPTE citation reads as follows:

The Honor Roll posthumously recognizes individuals who were not awarded Honorary Membership during their lifetimes but whose contributions would have been sufficient to warrant such an honor.

John Logie Baird (1888-1946) is inducted into the SMPTE Honor Roll in recognition of his lifelong contributions as a pioneer in television technology. His accomplishments include the first live television demonstration (in 1926), the first publicly shown color television system (1928), and the first fully electronic color television picture tube. The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) began regular transmissions with the Baird 30-line system in 1929. Baird continued to develop new technology including a mechanical color system in 1939 (later adopted by CBS in America); a 500-line 3-D system in 1941; and demonstrated a fully electronic 600-line color display in 1944. Baird lobbied for post-war adoption of his 1,000-line electronic color television system.

Other pioneers who were Honorary Members or on the Honor Role of SMPTE include the following:

Walter Bruch (1989)
Lee de Forest (1940)
Walt Disney (1955)
Ray M. Dolby (1992)
George Eastman (1928)
Thomas Alva Edison (1928)
Elmer W. Engstrom (1966)

In 2016's SMPTE (UK Section) John Logie Baird lecture, held on the evening of 22 June in London, speakers looked at how modern information technology in television has influenced the content chain from concept to screen. Iain Logie Baird was in attendance to receive the Certificate on behalf of his late grandfather and the Baird family. Click here for further details.


Iain Logie Baird Leaves National Media Museum

Following a downsizing of the curatorial team at the National Media Museum, Iain's final day at the Museum was 13th May 2016. Iain had worked as a curator at the Museum since 2007, and in his last two years there, his work included making major acquisitions to the Science Museum Group's radio and television collections, including the personal archive of BBC Engineer Captain AGD West, an early electro-dynamic microphone designed by H.J. Round in 1923, and the original BBC Television 'Little Ben' In-Vision (on air) clock used in their Lime Grove Studios during the 1950s.

Iain's research investigating the first outside radio broadcast from a natural location was published in the Science Museum Group Journal in October 2015. It was presented at the Toronto School Then | Now | Next international conference at the University of Toronto on 15 October 2016. Iain is working to complete two more similar papers regarding the acquisitions described above.


Papers of Benjamin Clapp Purchased by University of Glasgow

In September 2015 the University of Glasgow Library, with generous financial assistance from an anonymous donor, purchased the papers of Benjamin Clapp, a very important part of the story of John Logie Baird and the first trans-Atlantic television transmission. The collection, which includes Clapp's radio log book, papers, ephemera, and the earliest surviving Phonovision disc had been purchased by a foreign collector. The granting of the export license was delayed when the Science Museum Group raised an objection that these materials were of national historical importance. A six-month export bar was imposed, and on 29 June 2015 the Arts Council issued a press release regarding the situation. In his role as a curator at the National Media Museum, Iain Logie Baird had successfully presented the case for an export bar at the Arts Council hearing, and subsequently acted to champion efforts to find a domestic buyer - until the anonymous donor stepped forward. Click here for more information.


"Stookie Bill" part of Helensburgh's new Outdoor Museum

On June 20 2015 an Outdoor Museum was unveiled in the town of Helensburgh, John Logie Baird's birthplace. This was part of the CHORD project sponsored by the Argyll and Bute Council, consisting of a number of statues and inscribed plinths erected around Helensburgh's Colquhoun Square. To mark the television achievements of J.L. Baird, it was decided to feature the dummy known as "Stookie Bill" that Baird used in his early experiments in the 1920s. The sculpture was created from a laser scan of the original object, reproduced using 3-D printing. A quote from J.L. Baird's memoirs is included in the inscription on the south side of the plinth.


Television on the West End Stage in 1935

Malcolm Baird recalls that over 80 years ago television was featured in a smash hit musical play in London's West End.

"Glamorous Night", a creation of Ivor Novello with lyrics by Christopher Hassall, opened at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, on May 2nd 1935. The hero, played by Novello himself (shown here), is Anthony Allen, an Englishman who has invented a new television system. The opening scene is set in a quiet suburb, where Anthony complains that no one in Britain will support his invention financially. Then he departs on a pleasure cruise and ends up in the somewhat Ruritanian land of Krasnia. Here he meets Militza, a prima donna with whom King Stefan of Krasnia is infatuated. The plot then moves into the usual mixture of adventure and romance which went over well on the stage 80 years ago. Anthony of course falls in love with the glamorous Militza but eventually she must marry King Stefan in order to save her country from anarchy. On the plus side for Antony, the King has adopted his invention, so he travels back to England where, in the final scene, he sadly watches the Krasnian royal wedding broadcast on his own television system.

The production played to packed houses. The critics were grudgingly favourable and one comment was "if it is nonsense, it is glamorous nonsense, and for those who are ready to be entertained, it is the best show of its kind Drury Lane has had for years." A few weeks after the opening, King George V and Queen Mary attended a performance. Afterwards, the King remarked to Ivor Novello, "We enjoyed ourselves tremendously, with one reservation -- we could have wished a different ending. We found it a little sad, the Queen and I; in fact you made the Queen cry. Make the next one with a happy ending please."

In the final scene of "Glamorous Night", Anthony is dwarfed by a huge television image of Militza's wedding. This is rather at odds with the real world of television, as the B.B.C. was still broadcasting on the 30-line Baird system which gave an image a few inches in size. However my father had demonstrated large screen black and white television in a London cinema as early as 1930 and in 1935 he was working on large screen colour television.

It is not on record that anyone in our family ever went to see the show. My mother might have been interested but she was expecting a baby (me!). At this time, my father's company was working to upgrade its television systems for the competition for the first high definition television on the B.B.C. But in January 1937 the all-electronic Marconi-EMI 405 line system was adopted.

The success of "Glamorous Night" is an indication of the grip that television had on the public imagination. A few years later it was made into a film, but the television connection was quietly written out of the script, with Anthony Allen's occupation being changed from inventor to newspaper reporter. The film industry was getting nervous about television and this was fully justified by the disastrous impact of television on cinema attendance after World War II.


Professor Malcolm Baird receives Pat Leggatt Award

Malcolm Baird received a splendid inlaid glass plaque from the Britsh Vintage Wireless Society (BVWS) -- the Pat Leggatt award for their best article in 2012. The article, reflecting on the 75th anniversary of the BBC's Alexandra Palace television studios, originally appeared in the BVWS quarterly bulletin.


Anniversaries in 2017

90th - 27 May 1927 - Television images are sent from London to Glasgow by telephone line

85th - 22 August 1932 - The BBC launches an "experimental" low-definition television service using Baird equipment.

80th - 6 February 1937 - The BBC discontinues its use of the Baird 240-line television systems of high definition television, adopting the 405-line television systems of Marconi-EMI

80th - 5 December 1937 - Large screen colour television is shown at the Dominion Cinema, London

60th - 28 October 1957 - Baird is the posthumous subject of the BBC programme "This is Your Life"


Somewhat recent books on people in J.L. Baird's circle

John Logie Baird was a public figure during the second half of his life and his circle included many interesting people who were also public figures. Several of these are mentioned in recently published books which are noted below.

Kew Edwin Shelley (1894-1964)

Mr. Shelley was a London barrister who helped Baird to form a new television company in 1944 and later became co-executor of his estate. Shelley was a paternal grandson of Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee (1844-1906) who had been the first president of the Indian National Congress. In 1921 Shelley had changed his surname from Bonnerjee by deed poll. His background is detailed in Family History, by Janaki Agnes Penelope Majumdar (edited by Antoinette Burton, published 2003, Oxford University Press). In her memoir, written in 1935, Mrs.Majumdar provides a personal account of two distinguished anglophile Indian families.

William Le Queux (1869-1927)

Le Queux was a phenomenally successful spy story writer of the early 20th century and his writings are said to have led to the formation of MI5. He was living in Hastings while Baird was doing his early television experiments and he gave moral (but not financial) encouragement. A detailed biography, William Le Queux, Master of Mystery, has been written by Chris Patrick and Stephen Baister and privately published by them in 2007.

John C.W. Reith, (1889-1971)

Sir John Reith was Director General of the BBC while Baird and his company were trying to convince the BBC to broadcast television. In a new memoir entitled My father, Reith of the BBC,(2006, St.Andrew Press, Edinburgh), Marista Leishman provides a unique view of her father's prickly and eccentric personality, against the backdrop of his public achievements and eventual elevation to the peerage. This book confirms that Reith did not like television, though his personal relationship with Baird was not as bad as has sometimes been alleged.

Isidore Ostrer (1889-1975)

In 1932, Baird Television Ltd. was rescued from financial difficulties when it was taken over by a major UK film company, the Gaumont British Picture Co. Its leader, Isidore Ostrer, believed that television was an opportunity for the film industry, rather than a threat. He foresaw that large-screen television of a news or sporting event could be shown to cinema audiences as well as conventional feature films. This book entitled The Ostrers and Gaumont British has been written by Isidore's nephew Nigel Ostrer. Click here to read the review by Malcolm Baird.

Leonard Frank Plugge (1889-1981)

Mr. Plugge was a pioneer of commercial radio broadcasting to the UK in the 1920s and 1930s, when such programmes were transmitted from continental Europe for legal reasons. He first met Baird in the Hastings days and they met frequently in London during World War II, when Plugge was an M.P. and chairman of the Parliamentary Scientific Committee. A biography of Plugge entitled: And the World Listened -- Leonard Frank Plugge, by Keith Wallis, (Kelly Books, UK) appeared in March 2008 and a review is given on this website. (see above)


Books about J.L. Baird

(1) An important book appeared in 2009 under the title Images Across Space. The electronic imaging of Baird television. The author, Dr. Douglas Brown, is Director of the Science and Technology Forum at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. The book is mostly based on his master's and Ph.D. theses (1996, 2000). A detailed review by Malcolm Baird is available on this website.

[this picture of Dr. Brown by courtesy of Helensburgh Heritage Trust]

(2) The Master Switch is a detailed economic history of major electronic media (including television) by Professor Tim Wu of Columbia University. A review by Malcolm Baird appears in the Gallery.

(3) A 340-page television history has appeared from Lulu Publications (2011) under the title Spinning Discs, Mirrors and Electrons. It is by Australian authors Robert Forster and Douglas Grant, who give a broad technical coverage from the early scientific observations in the 19th century up to the arrival of video recording in about 1960. The book contains a chapter on J.L.Baird, as well as details on the work of less well-known pioneers such as Tihanyi (Hungary), Von Ardenne (Germany) and Walton (England). This book was favourably reviewed in the March 2012 issue of the AWA Journal which circulates to the members of the Antique Wireless Association of the USA.

(4) On May 15 2012, Dr. Douglas Brown's new book entitled "The Three Dimensions of John Logie Baird" was published by the Radio Society of Great Britain. John Logie Baird is remembered as the inventor of television with the qualification that his first system was mechanical. Dr. Brown's book sets out Baird's later work in electronic colour, 3D and holographic television and his significant contributions to other information sciences and their resulting technologies. It goes into detail about how the systems worked and their later development after John Logie Baird's death. Further details and ordering information can be obtained at the following link: http://www.rsgbshop.org/acatalog/Online_Catalogue_General_Books_30.html. Malcolm Baird has recently reviewed the book on this website to read this review click here.

(5) In May 1927 John Logie Baird made an historic television transmission from his company office in London, to the Central Hotel in Glasgow. The hotel has recently been refurbished and renamed as the Grand Central Hotel. Baird's part in the hotel's history is described in a recent book: Glasgow's Grand Central Hotel: Glasgow's most loved hotel, by Bill Hicks and Jill Scott, published in January 2012 by Waverley Books.


John Logie Baird: a life
hardback * c. 450 pages * 70 b/w illustrations

...a meticulously researched story based on first hand interviews and quoting many new documentary sources, some of which have only recently become available. At long last we have a book that sounds and feels like the truth about the man who was the first in the world to demonstrate working television (Michael Bennett-Levy, 2002)...click here for the rest of the review

"Kamm and Baird, the latter the inventor's son, paint a strikingly clear portrait of the inventor who started it all." (Russell A Potter, The Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television (US) 2004)

Read the full text of the JLB promotional brochure here
Available in the UK (incl. international orders) from Amazon.co.uk
Available in the USA from Amazon.com
Available in Canada from Amazon.ca

Research materials The National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh has recently acquired a large collection of research information used in the writing of the above book by Antony Kamm and Malcolm Baird. The Accession Number is 17274.


Television and Me: The Memoirs of John Logie Baird
paperback * c. 160 pages * heavily illustrated

The autobiography of John Logie Baird. A new version of his memoirs, only published previously as a specialist monograph, are written with blunt candour and caustic wit. His memoirs cover the wild escapades of his early business career and the dramatic pioneering days of his scientific work.

"Television and Me" was named Critic's choice, Scottish book of the year 2004.

Excerpt: Baird's Story is Pick of the Best
(Scottish Daily Mail, Jan. 7th, 2005) by Tom Kyle

It is rare indeed to find a book of real literary, scientific and historical importance.

So the appearance in the spring of the little-known and almost unpublished, autobiography of the most influential Scot who ever lived was the most significant publishing event of the year. Television and Me: The Memoirs of John Logie Baird ... was living proof that the best books need not always be the most lavish or expensive.

Baird tells his own story - from his Helensburgh boyhood to the great and precarious days when the first television pictures were transmitted, to his ultimate betrayal by the BBC - with a caustic turn of phrase and a self-deprecating wit.

His memoir is a fabulous distillation of all the joy and bitterness, hurt and humour of an extraordinary man. I said at the time I doubted there would be a better written, more interesting or more important book published in 2004. I see no reason to revise that opinion now.

The Scots Magazine, September 2004
"...Baird was not given the recognition which was his by right during his lifetime."

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