John Logie Baird was a British scientist of Scottish nationality,engineer, innovator and inventor of the world's first television
Family and Early Education
John was born at 8am on 13 August 1888 in Helensburgh, Argyll and Butethen Dunbartonshire, the youngest of four children of the Reverend John Baird, the Church of Scotland's minister for the local St Bride's church and Jessie Morrison Inglis, the orphaned niece of a wealthy family of shipbuilders from Glasgow.
Although John Baird suffered ill health for most of his life, he nonetheless showed early signs of ingenuity: rigging up a telephone exchange to connect his bedroom to those of his friends across the street; building a glider; and installing electricity in the Lodge, his family home. He received an associate degree at the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College and later attended Glasgow University as a final year BSc degree student, but never sat for his examinations. Instead he accepted an engineering position with the Clyde Valley Electrical Power Company in 1916, later applying for military service but being declared medically unfit. He resigned his position with the Electrical Power Company in 1918 in order to pursue a number of start-up businesses located, at various times, in Glasgow, Trinidad and London. Among these business ventures was the production of a medicated, water absorbent undersock in London, and a jam factory in Trinidad where citrus fruits grew in abundance. Baird was not destined to make his fortune producing jam, however, because "....unfortunately, the local insect life either ran off with the sugar or landed in the hot vats of boiling preserve."
Baird Television Development Company
Baird's health eventually necessitated a move to the south coast of England, where he began to study theories for transmitting and receiving visual signals. Due to reduced financial circumstances, his first crude television was made of odds and ends (an old hatbox, scissors, darning needles, bicycle light lenses, a used tea chest, sealing wax and glue), but by 1924 he managed to transmit a flickering image across a few feet. On 26 January 1926 he gave the world's first demonstration of true television before 50 scientists from the Royal Institution in an attic room in central London, and in 1927 he was able to successfully transmit visual images over 438 miles between London and Glasgow. The Baird Television Development Company (BTDC) was formed and, in 1928, achieved the first transatlantic television transmission between London and New York and the first transmission to a ship in the mid-Atlantic. Baird also pioneered the use of colored television, stereoscopic television, phonovision (recording both sound and vision of a gramophone disc), large screen television, and zone television.
In 1936 the BBC started the world’s first regular high-definition service from Alexandra Palace using the Baird system, though it was abandoned one year later in favour of a system developed by Isaac Shoenberg of EMI. Schoeberg's was an all electronic, 405-line system while Baird's was 240-lines and based on mechanical scanning. The last BBC broadcast using the Baird system was transmitted on 30 January 1937.
Marriage and Children
John Logie Baird married Margaret Cecilia Albu 13 November 1931 in the Half Moon Hotel at Coney Island, New York. Her father was a diamond merchant in South Africa, and Margaret was a classical pianist who trained in London. Despite a nineteen year age difference, and the fact that Margaret was a muscian and John a scientist, the marriage was to last for fifteen years (until John's death in 1946). They had two children:
Malcolm Baird, b. 2 Jul 1935, emigrated to Canada in 1960
John continued working on his various projects almost until the end. He suffered a stroke and was thought to be recovering when he died in his sleep 14 June 1946 in his home at Bexhill, Sussex. John Baird was buried at Helensburgh, Scotland (the town where he was born) next to his father and his mother. His wife Margaret joined him there at her own death fifty years later.
In his twenties he tried to create diamonds by heating graphite and shorted out Glasgow's electricity supply.
Baird invented a glass razor which was rust-resistant, but shattered.
Inspired by pneumatic tyres he attempted to make pneumatic shoes, but his prototype contained semi-inflated balloons which burst
He also invented a thermal undersock (the Baird undersock), which was moderately successful Baird suffered from cold feet, and after a number of trials, he found that an extra layer of cotton inside the sock provided warmth
In 1928, he developed an early video recording device, which he dubbed Phonovision.
Baird's other developments were in fibre-optics, radio direction finding, infrared night viewing and radar.
↑ Baird, Malcolm. John Logie Baird: the Final Months 1945-46. Bexhill Observer, 31 Aug 2007 available online.
Baird, Malcolm. In Search of Television Times Past: the Making of "JLB". 2002 available online.
Baird, Malcolm. What Did John Logie Baird Really Do in World War II? Baird Television, July 2010 available online.
Elen, Richard G. Baird, John Logie (1888-1946) BFI Screen Online available here.
"England and Wales, National Index of Wills and Administrations, 1858-1957," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QPLN-D78Q : 17 September 2018), John Logie Baird, 24 Jan 1947; citing Probate, Sussex, England, United Kingdom, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, Great Britain.; FHL microfilm .
New York City Passenger Lists 1820-1957. John Baird. Age: 43; Birth year: 1888; Birth place: Scotland; Arrival year: 1931; Arrival place: New York, New York; Ship name: Aquitania; Collection: NYC Paggenger Lists 1820-1957;; NARA roll #: 5057; NARA publication #: T715; Film #: 1756795; Record set: US Passenger and Crew lists; Category: Travel and migration; Subcategory: Passenger lists. https://www.findmypast.co.uk/transcript?id=US%2FPASS%2FNY%2F011968904751
1901 Scotland Census, published by Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Provo, UT 2007. Location: Argle St, Helensbro, Dumbartonshire. Members of household: John Baird (head) 58 yrs; Jessie M Baird (wife) 50 yrs; James Baird (son) 21 yrs; Annie I Baird (dau) 18 yrs; Jean S Baird (dau) 15 yrs; John L Baird (son) 12 yrs; Sarah H Walker 22 yrs. John L Baird discovered in 1901 Scotland Census - https://www.ancestry.com/sharing/20048961?h=cf8fd9
UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists 1890-1960, published by Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Provo, UT 2012. John Logie Baird. Age: 31; Birth date: about 1888; Departure date: 27 Nov 1919; Port of departure: Liverpool, England; Destination port: Trinidad; Ship name: Novian: Shipping line: Leyland; Official #: 135542. John Logie Baird discovered in UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 - https://www.ancestry.com/sharing/20059306?h=9fb85e