On this day – 26 January 1926 – John Logie Baird gave the world’s first demonstration of television before members of the Royal Institution in a small laboratory in Frith-Street, Soho. John Logie Baird was born on 14 August 1888 in Helensburgh on the west coast of Scotland, the son of a clergyman.
Today a blue plaque commemorating the event can be seen above Bar Italia at number 22 Frith Street in Soho.
The “televisor” – a crude version of the modern telly resembling a radio – was a contraption of revolving discs with lenses around their edges able to break down light reflected by an object in front of it.
A reporter from the Times reported:
The image as transmitted was faint and often blurred, but substantiated a claim that through the ‘televisor,’ as Mr Baird has named his apparatus, it is possible to transmit and reproduce instantly the details of movement, and such things as the play of expression on the face.
In 1928, the Baird Television Development Company achieved the first transatlantic television transmission between London and Hartsdale, New York and the first transmission to a ship in mid-Atlantic. He also gave the first demonstration of both colour and stereoscopic television.
From the New York Times, February 9th 1928.
HARTSDALE, N.Y. Feb.8 – A man and a woman sat before an electric eye in a London laboratory tonight and a group of persons in a darkened cellar in this village outside New York watched them turn their heads and move from side to side.
The images were crude, imperfect, broken, but they were images none the less. Man’s vision had panned the ocean; transatlantic television was a demonstrated reality, and one more great dream of science was on the way to realization.
Google marked the 90th anniversary of the Scotsman’s famous invention with this Google Doodle.