Virtual Gallery

The Mechanical TV Era

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Mechanical TV: Baird Television

John Logie Baird is the Scottish inventor who obtained the world's first real television picture in his laboratory in October, 1925, and demonstrated it to the British public on January 26, 1926. The image obtained was a small 30-line vertically-scanned red and black image, but it was television. Mechanical television based on Baird's systems dominated international television for the next few years into the early 30's.

The first live public demonstration of a Baird Television system in North America since 1932 took place in Toronto in 1996. John Logie Baird's son, Professor Malcolm Baird, gave a short speech to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the first public demonstration of television; grandson Iain Baird, who presently works at MZTV,was in attendance to operate the Televisor.

Mechanical systems of this period are not compatible with today's TV signals. When the MZTV Museum decided to restore this televisor to full operation, the first obstacle was to feed a signal to it that it could receive. We requested the assistance of Peter Yanczer, a modern-day mechanical television enthusiast, author, and technician. He built a mechanical camera that would work on a 30-line system, and connected this camera to the television with cables. The televisor itself needed only minor repairs and lubrication, and has remained workable.

By 1930, a British or West European television enthusiast could buy this televisor for home reception for about 18 pounds. The Baird company was licensed to provide intermittent broadcasts from the BBC transmitters, and at least 3,000 enthusiasts "looked in" to see as well as hear some of Britain's most popular singers and comedians.