Born in Helensburgh, Dumbartonshire, U.K., 13 August 1888. Attended Royal Technical College, Glasgow, and Glasgow University. Served as superintendent, Clyde Valley Electric Power Company; helped pioneer television transmission, successfully transmitting image of a Maltese cross several feet, 1924; gave scientists a demonstration of “Noctovision,” a form of infra-red television imaging, 26 January 1926; succeeded with world’s first transatlantic television transmission from London to New York, and produced first television images in natural color, 1928; experimented with stereoscopic television; the BBC adopted his 30-line, mechanically-scanned system, 1929, used for the first televising of the Derby from Epsom, 1931. Recipient: first gold medal of the International Faculty of Science given to an Englishman, 1937; Gold Medal of the International Faculty of Science, 1937. Died in Bexhill, Sussex, U.K., 14 June 1946.
John Logie Baird pioneered early television with the mechanical scanning system he developed from 1923 to the late 1930s. He is remembered today as an inventor (178 patents) with considerable insight, who was in many ways ahead of his time. Among his pioneering ideas were early versions of color television, the video disc, large screen television, stereo television, televised sports, and pay television by closed circuit. But he is also a tragic figure who often worked alone for lack of financial backing and lived to see his technical ideas superseded. He was forgotten by the time he died at the age of 58.
Baird did not select television as a field of endeavor so much as he backed into it. As a teen, he had toyed with the notion of pictures by wireless, as had others fascinated with the new technology. Later, having unsuccessfully tried innovation in several more mundane fields (socks, jams, glass razors, shoe soles), Baird traveled to Hastings (on England’s south coast) in 1923 to see if the sea air would aid his always marginal health. During a series of long walks there, his mind returned to his earlier notions of how to send wireless images. But he was not well trained in electronics, and this lack of basic knowledge often limited his thinking and experiments. Continue reading John Logie Baird