John Logie Baird honoured by the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers (SMPTE)

by Iain Logie Baird

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.

The SOLD OUT 2016 John Logie Baird Lecture: From Concept to Screen

22 June

SMPTE and Nagravision took to the podium back in June to deliver the 2016 Multimedia Communications Network John Logie Baird (JLB) lecture: from Concept to Screen. The sold-out lecture took place at Savoy Place, London and featured presentations from SMPTE President, Barbara Lange and Nagra Kudelski’s SVP of Marketing, Ivan Verbesselt.

IET's photographs from the evening, including John Logie Baird's grandson, Iain Logie Baird, accepting John Logie Baird into SMPTE’s Roll of Honor and the birthday cake the Network presented to SMPTE to celebrate their centenary birthday.

IEEE Plaque Unveiling & The Evolution of Television from Baird to the Digital Age

IEEE Plaque Unveiling at 22 Frith Street, Soho

26 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).

The Evolution of Television from Baird to the Digital Age 27 January 2017
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 in Helensburgh, exhibiting at an early age a fascination with science fact accompanied by a strong influence of the science fiction (H.G. 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 in Hastings! But it was during this time in Hastings that he had his 'eureka' moment when JLB 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.