John Logie Baird (1888 – 1946) was a Scottish engineer and inventor, born in Helensburgh. He was the first person to demonstrate a working television, and was voted number 44 in the BBC’s 2002 list of the “100 Greatest Britons”.
Baird built his television set using, among other things, a hatbox, scissors, darning needles, bicycle light lenses, a tea chest, sealing wax and glue. Very Blue Peter. On 2 October, 1925, Baird transmitted the first television picture: a greyscale image of a ventriloquist’s dummy called “Stooky Bill”: the lights for the experiments were too hot to use a person for the tests. The BBC broadcast some programmes using Baird’s mechanical system, but it was soon replaced by the electronic system developed by EMI-Marconi.
Many of Baird’s inventions were not successful: his attempts to create diamonds by heating graphite shorted out Glasgow’s electricity supply; his glass razor which was rust-resistant, but shattered; his prototype pneumatic shoes contained semi-inflated balloons which burst. However, the Baird Thermal Undersock was a moderate success!
“The most corrosive piece of technology that I’ve ever seen is called television – but then, again, television, at its best, is magnificent.”
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