In 1925, using a mechanical television system, John Logie Baird was the first person to ever receive a recognizable moving TV image. This exhibit pays tribute to this historic milestone, as well as JLB’s may other significant contributions to television as we know it today.
In April of 1925, Baird was invited by Selfridge’s department store, to hold demonstrations of his fledgling television system. Baird received £20 per week to showcase his system to attract customers into the store. These demonstrations took place in the store’s electrical department at 11:30am, 2:30pm, and 3:15pm, for three consecutive weeks.
This is a scanning disc fashioned by Baird, dating back to the earliest experiments in television. It represents one of the only three known surviving artefacts from Baird’s earliest work on television.
Original glass slides used by Baird during his lecture to the Hastings & District Radio Society on October 6, 1927. Baird’s lecture was part of the Wonders of Science exhibition that ran from October 5-8. He had been invited to speak by Victor Mills.
Along with regular weekly scheduled broadcasts and programmes, Baird had numerous programming “firsts”. These included Britain’s first televised play, The Man with the Flower in His Mouth, (1930) and the first televised outdoor sporting event, the Epsom Derby, that was shown to an audience in a theatre 14 miles away (1931).
In a mechanical television camera, a “flying spot” of light produced by a scanning disc is reflected off the subject onto a photo-electric cell. The cell converts the broken-up elements of the image into a series of electrical impulses. These are transmitted by wire (or as a radio signal) to a receiver. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the BBC used medium wave radio frequencies.
The receiver (television set) translates the amplified radio signals it receives into a rapid sequence of flashes produced by the neon tube. Situated between the observer and this tube is a reproducing disc with the same number of holes as the disc in the television camera. Each flash of the lamp synchronizes with a corresponding hole in the revolving disc. As it rotates, the disc reforms the image into its original configuration for the observer.
After successfully transmitting television across the Atlantic in February, 1928 (from London to New York), Baird Television decided to open an American subsidiary, Baird Television International Ltd, to try and obtain a broadcasting licence in North America. Baird was sent over in October 1931 to assist with the flagging negotiations. Retired army Major and British MP, Archibald George Church, who became a board member of Baird Television Limited in 1931, kept extensive paperwork and documents, including some pertaining to a failed attempt to partner with Montréal’s Canadian Television Limited for the first television broadcasting licence in Canada.
On opening night, November 2, 1936, the BBC went to air twice with its inaugural broadcast – first using Baird Television Limited’s 240-line system, and again with the rival Marconi-EMI system. The BBC spent weeks testing both systems but, in the end, the Marconi-EMI system came out on top, and was adopted full time.
Album covering all the arrangements, emergency announcements and technical details of the opening ceremony, repeated twice, first on the Baird system and then a half an hour later on the Marconi-EMI system. Created by DH Munro – first producer at the BBC
A complete historical account with the original working papers of the opening of the first high definition public television service in the world. It is also the only detailed source of information of the practical application of the Baird system of electronic television transmission on 240 lines using the intermediate film process. This is the only album which Munro (first producer at the BBC) has indexed – Baird, EMI, Rehearsals, Press Cuttings, etc. – by page.
Baird Television Ltd began manufacturing sets like the T5, at their plant beside their broadcasting studio at the Crystal Palace. These dual-standard electronic sets were created to be sold prior to the opening of the BBC high-definition television service in November, 1936, and thus were designed to receive either the Baird 240-line or the Marconi-EMI 405-line systems.
By 1937, after a devastating fire destroyed most of the Crystal Palace facilities, in collaboration with Bush Radio, Baird Television continued manufacturing some of the finest televisions available, like the T14. This receiver had a 15” “Cathovisor” tube, the largest cathode-ray tube on the market until 1939.
Baird’s new company, John Logie Baird Ltd, manufactured a series of three high-end sets – the Lyric, the Garrick, and the Grosvenor – just prior to Baird’s death in 1946. Due to financing from Baird’s childhood friend, actor Jack Buchanan, the sets were named after London theatres. While the Lyric and Garrick models made it to stores, only one “prototype” of the Grosvenor was ever built. Used to televise the victory parade at the Savoy Hotel, it was last seen at the 1947 Radiolympia show, and has since disappeared.
Visitors are welcome to purchase admission tickets in-person upon arrival, or here on our website via the ‘Buy Tickets’ button below. Take a deep dive into the history of television. Enjoy browsing the world’s most comprehensive collection of television receivers. The museum is open Tuesday-Friday (2pm-5pm), Saturday (10am-6pm), and is closed Sunday & Monday.
|Seniors and Students||$5|
|Groups 10 +||$5|
|Children 12 and under||FREE|