John Baird
Privacy Level: Open (White)

John Logie Baird (1888 - 1946)

John Logie Baird
Born in Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire, Scotland, United Kingdommap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married Nov 1931 in Coney Island, New York, United Statesmap
Father of and [private son (1930s - unknown)]
Died at age 57 in Bexhill, Sussex, England, United Kingdommap
Profile last modified | Created 30 Jan 2014
This page has been accessed 7,656 times.



Notables Project
John Baird is Notable.
John Logie Baird was a Scottish scientist engineer, innovator and inventor of the world's first television

Family and Early Education

John Logie Baird was born at 8am on 13 August 1888 in Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire (now Argyll and Bute), 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 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 (now Strathclyde University) 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 were 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 fifty 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 on 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 musician 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[9]


Baird 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.[10][11] 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 Baird 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 by subscription.
  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. Macadam, Jackie. Son of Manse - Inventor of Television. Helensburgh Heritage, 15 Oct 2015 available here.
  10. "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.
  11. 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. available here by subscription
  • 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 -

More Genealogy Tools

Sponsored Search

Sponsored Search by

No known carriers of John's DNA have taken a DNA test.

Have you taken a DNA test? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.

Images: 1
John Logie Baird
John Logie Baird

Sponsored by Ancestry ®

Family History Search.


Enter a grandparent's name. Just one grandparent can lead you to many discoveries.

Comments: 8

Leave a message for others who see this profile.
There are no comments yet.
Login to post a comment.
Is there any chance we could get Baird Connected before next week? I kinda sorta nominated him as a support profile to Alexander Graham Bell's being EPOW. (There is no guarantee he'd make the final eight, even if Connected, but he'd at least be in the running if he were.)
posted by Melanie Paul
Thank you, Melanie! We will do our best to get him connected.
posted by Amy (Crawford) Gilpin
I've had a thing for Baird for decades - even "debating" with my late husband over who invented the television (was not the Americans!) - but am not sure I could do him justice. If I can help, please let me know. (I can drop working on my USBH profiles for a while.)
posted by Melanie Paul
I think I can do it!

I'm working on his aunt, and think I have a trail from her, through her husband's first wife's family. I just need to get my ducks in a row and cross all the i's and dot all the t's. Poke-tongue smilie (black and white).

posted by Melanie Paul
edited by Melanie Paul
Done. He should show as Connected after the next update.

Now all I need to do is go back and properly flesh out and source the profiles I just created.

posted by Melanie Paul
Well done, Melanie! We worked on every angle it seems with no luck! Thank you for all your hard work getting him connected!
posted by Amy (Crawford) Gilpin
I wasn't seeing anything going up, so I went up and OUT. I was just lucky finding the husband of his aunt had been married before, and that first wife's family was already here and Connected -- albeit a few generations up. Between us, if I had not, someone else would have. Collaboration!  :)
posted by Melanie Paul
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