Today in History – January 26, 1926 – Scottish Engineer John Baird gives first public demonstration of television in London. According to BBC News, his first prototype in 1924 was crudely made of a washstand, a tea chest and a project lamp in a biscuit tin, scanning disks made from carboard and lenses, all held together with srcap wood, darning needles, strings and sealing wax. Nevertheless, he managed to transmit a flickering image for a few feet. On 26 January 1926, he gave the first world’s demonstration to fifty scientists in London. By 1927 he was transmitting an image of over 438 miles between London and Glasgow and started the Baird Television Development Company. Other firsts include: first transmission of a human face in 1925 (see right photo above), first transatlantic television transmission between London and New York in 1928 and first demonstration of color and stereoscopic television.
Baird’s system was amazing in that it was entirely mechanical, but it couldn’t compete against new electronic systems, such as those being developed by Marconi in the United States. Marconi’s approach was ultimately adopted for early television systems, but Baird’s contributions paved the way by introducing the concept and providing the first proof of concept. Prior to this BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) was concentrating on radio production because they thought television would be a passing fad. In 1936 they adopted a television service using the electronic television technology developed by Marconi and thus Baird’s contributions are less well known.
Check out the Engineering Pathway’s educational resources on the color television. For more educational resources, see our electrical engineering education and computer engineering education community pages. The Engineering Pathway also hosts Engineering Education communities in all ABET-accredited disciplines.
Also on this date in 1905, Cullinan Diamond (“Star of Africa”), the largest diamond ever found, is unearthed. On January 26, 1697, Isaac Newton solves Bernoulli’s brachistochrone problem, inventing the “calculus of variations”. And in 1992, Americans with Disabilities Act went into effect.