1st test of a working television, October 2, 1925
He did so in his London lab where he successfully transmitted the first television picture with a greyscale image: the head of a ventriloquist's dummy in a 30-line vertically scanned image, at five pictures per second.
Upon that success, Baird called in an office worker, 20-year-old William Edward Taynton, so that he could see what a human face would look like televised. Taynton became the first person to be televised in a full tonal range.
Baird was eager to share the news of this accomplishment with the masses. He went to the office of his local daily newspaper to promote his invention. The news editor was terrified of his claims, described Baird as a lunatic who said he had a machine for seeing by wireless, and told reception to be cautious of him because he could be armed with a razor and violent.
Baird did manage to get media attention in January 1926, when he repeated the transmission for members of the Royal Institution and a reporter from The Times in his laboratory. By this time, he had improved the scan rate to 12.5 pictures per second. It was the first demonstration of a television system that could broadcast live moving images with tone graduation. (See photo of Baird working on his transmitting station in his laboratory around 1926)
He later demonstrated the world's first color transmission in July 1928 and in 1932 became the first person in Britain to demonstrate ultra-short wave transmission.
Although Baird's electromechanical system was eventually displaced by purely electronic systems (such as those of Vladimir Zworykin, Marconi-EMI, and Philo Farnsworth), Baird's early successes earned him a prominent place in television's invention.
In 2016, the 1926 Royal Institution demonstration was honored with this Google Doodle:
- BBC Television Service launches, November 2, 1936
- 1st American TV station begins broadcasting, July 2, 1928
- Color TVs reach retailers, September 28, 1951
- Telstar 1 makes 1st live trans-Atlantic TV broadcast, July 23, 1962
- TV station broadcasts first HD signal in US, July 23, 1996
- Thin air: ATSC reception isn't always easy
- 1st live, international, satellite TV production shared, June 25, 1967
- 1st US 3D TV program is broadcast, April 29, 1953
For more moments in tech history, see this blog. EDN strives to be historically accurate with these postings. Should you see an error, please notify us.
Editor's note: This article was originally posted on October 2, 2012 and edited on October 2, 2016.