On January 26, 1926, members of the Royal Institution and a reporter from The Times waited patiently, with bated breath, in a laboratory on 22 Firth Street, Soho, in London.
What they were about to witness would change not just communication, but the world as a whole, forever. And then, with a flicker of black and white motion, there it was – the first public demonstration of the world’s first working TV.
The lab they were in belonged to John Logie Baird, who had created a system that was capable of broadcasting live moving images with tone graduation. On July 3, 1928, Baird demonstrated the first ever colour TV in action before going on to demonstrate the first long distance TV transmission between Glasgow and London and then the first trans Atlantic transmission between London and New York.
Although Baird’s electromechanical design was eventually displaced by purely electronic systems, he had well and truly earned the nickname that has stuck all through the decades – The Father of Television.
Baird really was a genius and a true inspiration to anyone who works in communication, technology, or indeed anyone who aspires to create and innovate.
He was born in my hometown, Helensburgh, on the west coast of Scotland, and is most definitely someone I have looked up to my whole life.
Strangely, though, as proud as Helensburghers are of Baird, there has been very little done to commemorate the TV legend or his achievements. There’s a bust of him in Hermitage Park, a primary school is named after him and now there’s a pub named after him. But that was about it. I thought, surely, there should at least be a Baird museum or TV museum located in the town, but there was nothing like that.
Now, though, local charity Helensburgh Heroes is changing that with the proposed development of a digital skills school in the town, which will have a tie up with Glasgow Caledonian University.
It’s fantastic news for the town but also for the UK’s media and technology industries. I was inspired to work in the media and communication because of him and I really hope that others will find him as much of an inspiration as I did.
As an aside, Baird went on to invent a number of other things, including the Baird oversock designed to keep feet extra warm. It was considerably less successful than the TV.