John Logie Baird: Biography, Inventions & Awards

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson goes over the life and work of a man many people have never heard of, John Logie Baird. But his invention, you have absolutely seen, used, or heard of.

John Logie Baird

Many people are addicted to TV, so to speak. They can't get unstuck from their recliner and avoid watching yet another episode of a mindless TV show. Of course, TV does play an important role as well. Whether good or bad, you can thank one man, in large part, for the miracle of television.

His name was John Logie Baird, a Scottish engineer. You're about to learn more about his life and work in this lesson.

Early Life

John Logie Baird was born on August 13, 1888, in Helensburgh, Dunbarton, Scotland. This is on the west coast of Scotland, in case you were wondering. Anyways, Baird was the youngest of four children of Jesse Baird and Reverend John Baird.

Early on in life, it was quite clear that Baird was something special. Not content with running around with sticks in his hand like other children, Baird instead decided he'd connect a telephone line from his bedroom to that of his friends who lived across the street.

Once Baird completed primary school, he attended the Royal Technical College in Glasgow, Scotland. This is now Strathclyde University. Here, he studied electrical engineering.

Around this time, World War I broke out, but he did not serve as he was declared unfit as a result of chronic ill-health. Good thing too, for he could've easily been killed in the war of the trenches.

Career & Invention

After completing his education, Baird did an odd thing or two. He worked for a utility company (Clyde Valley Electrical Power Company), then started a manufacturing business making socks, and even moved to Trinidad! There, he operated a jam factory for a bit.

John Logie Baird.
John Logie Baird

None of these ventures were particularly fruitful, so Baird came back to the UK in 1920. Baird had always dreamed of creating a television. But this was no easy feat as he didn't have any sponsors and so had little cash to try and invent one. So, he scrounged whatever material he could find. Everything from glue to string to cardboard to even a bicycle lamp to create the very first TV.

In 1924, Baird successfully transmitted flickering images of a Maltese cross for a distance of about 10 feet. After working on his invention for a bit more, he managed to transmit an image of a ventriloquist's dummy in 1925. Not long after, Baird demonstrated his invention, the first working television, to the public at Selfridge's department store in London. He then went on to show his invention to 50 scientists from Britain's Royal Institution in January of 1926. He called his invention the 'televisor,' and the moving pictures were of 3.5 x 2 inches in size at the time.

The next year, Baird transmitted sound and images across a distance of more than 400 miles (from London to Glasgow). The year after that, he sent television imagery across the Atlantic Ocean, from London to New York.

By 1929, the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) was using Baird's invention to show TV programs!

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