John Baird
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John Logie Baird (1888 - 1946)

John Logie Baird
Born in Helensburgh Scotlandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married Nov 1931 in Coney Island, New York, United Statesmap
Father of and [private son (1930s - unknown)]
Died in Bexhill, Sussex, Englandmap
Profile last modified | Created 30 Jan 2014 | Last significant change: 11 May 2020
17:33: Bobbie (Madison) Hall edited the Locked Status for John Logie Baird (1888-1946). [Thank Bobbie for this]
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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 Bute then 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.[1][2]

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.[2][3] 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.[1] 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.[1][2] 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.[2] 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."[4]

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.[1] 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),[2] 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,[1] and in 1927 he was able to successfully transmit visual images over 438 miles between London and Glasgow.[2] 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.[2] 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.[1]

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.[1]

Marriage and Children

John Logie Baird married Margaret Cecilia Albu 13 November 1931 in the Half Moon Hotel at Coney Island, New York.[5] Her father was a diamond merchant in South Africa, and Margaret was a classical pianist who trained in London.[6] 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:

  1. Diana Baird, b. 1932[7]
  2. Malcolm Baird, b. 2 Jul 1935,[8] 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.[9][10] 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.[2]

Other inventions
  • 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.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online, entry for Baird, John Logie (188801946). Pub. 23 Sep 2004; rev. 1 Sep 2017 available here by subscription.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Helensburgh Heroes. John Logie Baird. Heroes Centre available online.
  3. BBC Historic figures John Logie Baird
  4. National Library of Scotland. John Logie Baird available online.
  5. Baird, Malcolm. Baird in America. Royal Television Society Newsletter, 1996 available online.
  6. Sydney Morning Herald (Syndey, New South Wales, Australia), 29 Jul 1996, p. 129. Margaret Baird. Obituary for Margaret Cecilia Baird (Aged 89) available here.
  7. "England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008," database, FamilySearch ( : 1 October 2014), Diana M C J Baird, 1932; from "England & Wales Births, 1837-2006," database, findmypast ( : 2012); citing Birth Registration, Hampstead, London, England, citing General Register Office, Southport, England.
  8. "England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008," database, FamilySearch ( : 1 October 2014), Malcolm H I Baird, 1935; from "England & Wales Births, 1837-2006," database, findmypast ( : 2012); citing Birth Registration, Camberwell, London, England, citing General Register Office, Southport, England.
  9. "England and Wales Death Registration Index 1837-2007," database, FamilySearch ( : 4 September 2014), John L Baird, 1946; from "England & Wales Deaths, 1837-2006," database, findmypast ( : 2012); citing Death, Battle, Sussex, England, General Register Office, Southport, England.
  10. Baird, Malcolm. John Logie Baird: the Final Months 1945-46. Bexhill Observer, 31 Aug 2007 available online.

See Also

  • 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 ( : 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.
  • 1901 Scotland Census, published by 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 -
  • UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists 1890-1960, published by 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 -

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John Logie Baird
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I will be locating additional sources for this profile on behalf of the Scotland Project. If you know of information which you feel should be included please send me a message or post here. Thanks,


posted by Jen (Stevens) Hutton

Rejected matches › John Byrd (abt.1890-)

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Categories: Inventors | Scotland, Notables | This Day In History August 14