What's New at Bairdtelevision.com?





Last updated 6 April 2021



Welcome to our new website


All of the content from the old site is still here, but better-formatted and easier to use. A number of new pages have been added. For example, see the 1927 lecture and 1933 article by John Logie Baird, Malcolm Baird's new articles including one about when JLB met H.G. Wells in 1931, and an article by Iain Baird about actor Terry-Thomas' promotional campaign for Baird television sets in 1949–1950. Our old site is still up, now at https://www.bairdtelevision.com/mobileindex.html.


To navigate the new site, there is a quick-reference pull down menu at the top of every page that contains links to most of the articles. The complete hypertext menu for this site can be found in 'the gallery' at the bottom of this page.





The John Logie Baird commemorative coin


A new John Logie Baird 50 pence commemorative coin was released by the Royal Mint on 4 January 2021. Over the past year or so Iain Baird has been acting as an historical advisor for the design, packaging and marketing information of the coin with the inscription “JOHN LOGIE BAIRD TELEVISION PIONEER” accompanied by a depiction of a television mast emitting circular radio waves with a range of dates relating to John Logie Baird and the dates “1888” and “1946” aside the mast. The 2021 Annual Coin Set including the John Logie Baird coin is now 100% available and can be purchased at www.royalmint.com. The JLB coin is also now available as a separate item on numerous coin trading and internet auction sites.


"For 2021, a collection of coins celebrates and explores the stories behind Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott, who made history come to life, John Logie Baird and the making of television, and H.G. Wells, the man who made science fiction reality. Interwoven with The Royal Mint’s history, we also celebrate how we were the change makers in 1971 as we mark the 50th anniversary of decimal day, and wish Her Majesty The Queen a happy 95th birthday as she continues to make a nation proud." The sets are available in precious metal editions or struck in their circulating alloys, and are finished to either Proof or Brilliant Uncirculated standard."







New edition of John Logie Baird's memoirs now available





Television and Me—the Memoirs of John Logie Baird Ebook edition published 2020 by Birlinn Ltd., Edinburgh, Scotland, UK


At Birlinn https://birlinn.co.uk/product/television-and-me/

At Amazon (Kindle Edition) https://www.amazon.co.uk/Television-Me-Memoirs-Logie-Baird-ebook/dp/B08QCT6GD1

Malcolm Baird writes: My father wrote his memoirs between May and August 1941 while recovering from a heart attack at Tempsford Hall, a health farm 43 miles north of London. His company, Baird television Ltd., had been wound up soon after the war started in 1939. Since then, he had been working privately on colour television, while my mother and my sister Diana and I had been moved out of London to the comparative safety of Cornwall.

A shorthand secretary was summoned to Tempsford Hall and my father started to dictate his memoirs. These were memoirs in the literal sense (memories) as he was away from his office and his papers. He was also subject to a strict diet after the first few weeks he lost so much weight that his suit had to be altered by a local tailor. Understandably, the memoirs contain the occasional mistake and often the continuity is broken while he tells a funny story or makes personal remarks about some of his friends (and enemies). In spite of these imperfections they are highly readable, with a detached tone and a touch of dry humour.

Occasionally my father breaks into fury, as when he describes the muddy but compulsory football games at school in Helensburgh, or the working conditions in the Glasgow factories where he served as an apprentice. Everything was dutifully taken down by the secretary and typed in double spacing the memoirs were divided into 9 chapters with a total length of 45,000 words.

After leaving Tempsford Hall in the autumn of 1941, my father took up a new project on high speed signalling by televised images, sponsored by Cable and Wireless Ltd. This gave him some badly-needed financial support, while he also continued his work on colour and stereoscopic (3D) television. In 1944 he produced the world’s first colour cathode ray tube, the Telechrome. At the same time he was starting up a new company to produce television sets after the war. By the end of the 1945, he was worn out he had a stroke in February 1946, made a partial recovery, but then died in his sleep on June 14th 1946. The memoirs were deposited in the office of the family lawyer and in 1948 my mother added a final chapter covering the years from 1941 to 1946.

The memoirs remained unpublished for many years although they were drawn upon by the biographer Sydney Moseley (1952) and by my mother in her memoirs (1973). At last, in 1988, Chapters 1 to 9 were published by the Royal Television Society, with support from the BBC. However this first edition had a limited circulation and it only covered the period up to 1941. It was not until 2004 that the memoirs appeared in a popular edition that contained all 10 chapters. The book was published in paperback as “Television and Me” by Mercat Press (Edinburgh). It was well received by the critics and parts of it were broadcast by the BBC as the Book of The Week. My role in the 2004 edition was to choose illustrations, some from public sources and some from family archives. Additionally, I have inserted footnotes to give fuller background information about people and events. Some of my footnotes corrected the occasional errors that had crept into the memoirs because of the difficult conditions under which they had been written.

The 2004 edition has been out of print for several years, although public interest in television history is increasing. This new edition has been released as an ebook by Birlinn Ltd., which absorbed Mercat Press in 2007. I have written a new Preface and updated and expanded the footnotes. Among recent developments there have been two important technical books by Dr.Douglas Brown on my father’s work on colour and 3D television during World War II. In August 2020, an American journal published a research article by Brandon Inglis and Prof, Gary Couples, with details of the special photocell that my father used in early stages of his research (1924-26). On the personal side, I have added a new note on the recently discovered identity of his first love (“Alice”) who was with him in the early days of television.

The ebook format of the 2020 edition will help the modern reader to navigate between the text and the footnotes and the index. Trivia addicts will like the search function which shows matches for “the Prince of Wales” (6), “Reith” (22) and “Hitler” (14). I hope that this updated edition of my father’s memoirs will serve as his personal addition to the publications and media events that are expected as television approaches its 100th birthday. This will fall on October 2 2025 based on the first breakthrough in the laboratory, or January 26 2026 based on the first public demonstration.





Crystal Palace South Tower Listed


The base of the Crystal Palace’s southern water tower has been listed by Historic England following a proposal from Crystal Palace Foundation chairman Melvyn Harrison. The southern tower was the location of Baird Television Limited's vision and sound transmitter aerials starting in 1933-34, as well as serving as the location of some of John Logie Baird's own experiments concerning colour and large-screen television. Sadly, the upper section of the tower was demolished in 1940-41. Click here for more information.







The Secret in the Box


On 26 January 1926, John Logie Baird first demonstrated television. This was reported in The Times and other newspapers and witnessed by distinguished scientists from the Royal Institution. And yet it had a mysterious aspect. Although Baird had patented many parts of his system, he did not give out enough information to allow his competitors to build an exact working copy.


For nearly 100 years, this has been a problem for technical historians and museums wishing to build a working replica of the first television system. One of the grey areas has been the type of photocell used for converting light fluctuations to electrical signals. During 2019, a step forward has been taken by two part-time researchers in Scotland: Brandon Inglis (a teacher) and Professor Gary Couples (with Heriot Watt University).


They have found that a key component in Baird’s television system was a photocell known as “the Thalofide Cell”. This had been developed a few years earlier by Theodore Case in the USA. Its main application was in connection with talking pictures that were being actively developed at the time. In July 1924 Baird bought one for £50 and after many months of further research he succeeded in producing a television picture of a human subject in October 1925 – this was followed soon afterward by the public demonstration.


Appropriately, Mr. Inglis and Prof. Couples decided to publish their findings in a peer-reviewed American technical journal. Their 8000-word article, entitled “John Logie Baird and the Secret in the Box” appeared in the August 2020 issue (pages 1371-1382) of the Proceedings of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. (IEEE).





FULTON, Julie. Mister T.V.: The Story of John Logie Baird. illus. by Patrick Corrigan. 32p. Maverick Arts. Sept. 2020. ISBN 9781848866461.

Review by Malcolm Baird (son) and Iain Baird (grandson), 6 September 2020

Television history is a complex subject. Primarily it stems from science and technology, closely allied with innovative thinking, social sciences, business acumen and "politics". It was developed mainly as a broadcast medium, carrying news and culture and sport to millions of viewers. But as it approaches its 100th birthday, television is becoming an important person-to-person channel of communication this new development is being driven by the COVID crisis. It is hard enough for a mature adult to get a handle on television history, but how on Earth can it be put across to young children?

Julie Fulton has met the challenge with a human story drawn from J.L. Baird's own memoirs (1941) which are to be republished soon. Patrick Corrigan’s colour illustrations are more eye-catching than the (mostly) grainy black-and-white photos in the archives. We like Ms. Fulton’s use of time-lines which give the young readers a sense of history, moving along in parallel to the growth of television. “Mister TV” also recognizes that many people in different countries have contributed to television, both in the early days (Nipkow, Rosing, et al.) and in the later stages (Farnsworth, Zworykin, et al.).





John Logie Baird anniversaries in 2021


95th – 26 January 1926. First-ever public demonstration of true television, to forty distinguished scientists of the Royal Institution at 22 Frith Street, Soho, London.


– 23 December 1926. First demonstration of Noctovision, JLB's infra-red television system, at Motograph House, Upper St. Martin's Lane, Covent Garden, London.


90th – 3 June 1931. The first televised sporting event, the Epsom Derby—also the first remote outside television broadcast.


85th – 26 August 1936. 'High definition' television programmes intended for the public were broadcast by the BBC to the Radiolympia Exhibition.


– 2 November 1936. The official start of the 'world's first high-definition television service' from the BBC's new television studios at Alexandra Palace. Initially, both the 240-line Baird television systems and the 405-line EMI-Marconi system were used.


– 30 November 1936. Fire destroys the Crystal Palace where the Baird Television Ltd. studios and laboratories are located. The South Tower remains undamaged and is used in subsequent experiments by JLB.


80th – December 1941. JLB demonstrated high definition stereoscopic television to the press. See: What did John Logie Baird really do in World War II?


75th – 14 June 1946. Death of JLB at Bexhill, at age 57.





John Logie Baird exhibition at the MZTV Museum, Toronto


An exhibition at Toronto's MZTV Museum honours the work of John Logie Baird. On 25th of May, 2019, the exhibition was officially opened to the public, with MZTV founder Moses Znaimer, Malcolm Baird, and Iain Baird in attendance, who each gave a short speech. Iain is a co-curator of the exhibition, and a former curator at MZTV (1995–1998).







Diana Richardson (née Baird), 1932–2016


Tribute written by Elizabeth Richardson for the Museum of Communication, Burntisland, on 10 July 2016 and published in their newsletter, November 2016.





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


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!





An engineer sae bricht


Many books and articles have been written about John Logie Baird, but few poems have appeared. This contribution is by Andrew Roxburgh McGhie, Associate Director of the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter at the University of Pennsylvania.


There was an engineer sae bricht

Work’d ilka mornin’, noon and nicht

Until, at last, he got it richt

His lifelang mission

Aye, ‘twas sic a bonnie sicht

Yon television


He was a lallan lad wha dared

E’en tho’ few bawbees could be spared

He fashed and went that extra yaird

Tae gar it rin

Salute we nou John Logie Baird

Oor brawest yin


For he went at it, heid tae heid

‘Gainst RCA an’ a’ that breed

Nae gowk was he. Our trusty steed

Left them ahint

Life changed fore’er thro’ his guid deed

As weel we kennt


Nae muckle better could it be

He gie’d it colour and 3-D

Wi’ infra-red thro’ nicht he’d see

But the worl’ him spurns

Let’s honour him as oor third B

Alang wi’ Bruce and Burns







All proceeds go toward maintaining this site and supporting new content.



eXTReMe Tracker




The gallery



on this website:





Articles and lectures by JLB


Historical articles about JLB and his work


People who worked with JLB


Articles about JLB and his work


Other television history


Television and radar