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Paul Reveley 19112017

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.

Crystal Palace colour camera 1938Up 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 an 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.