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Baird's original TV apparatus

the world’s first demonstration of true television South East,

Distorted monochrome image of Oliver Hutchinson’s face
The first recorded television picture (the subject is Baird’s business partner Oliver Hutchinson), 1926. Science Museum/ Science & Society Picture Library

In his home in Hastings, self-employed inventor John Logie Baird (1888-1946) sought the means to transmit and receive images. For decades this had been the dream of scientists and science fiction writers alike until Baird demonstrated a crude picture of a cross in 1923.

By 1925, Baird’s television apparatus was still basic but more effective: 16 lenses fitted in two half-spirals on a cardboard disc cut from a hat box. This was connected to a large motor mounted on an old tea chest which turned the disc. As the disc rotated, each of the lenses scanned a different part of the subject and focused light into Baird's secret photosensitive cell, where it was turned into an electrical signal which could be sent to a receiver. Receiving equipment had a similar disc and showed small but recognisable images of human faces with 32 lines of resolution on a ground glass screen. The light was provided by a neon tube which shone through the spinning receiver disc onto the glass.

On 26 January 1926, Baird demonstrated a similar apparatus to scientists from the Royal Institution in an attic room in London, making it the world’s first public demonstration of true television.

National Media Museum

Decade
Type
Engineering,
Region
South East
Location
London
Key Individuals
John Logie Baird,