View Full Version : January 1926 - British television

01-27-2016, 07:31 AM
How far we've come. From a fuzzy image barely recognizable as a human face, to the high-definition color images of today. Baird Television first shown to the public in January, 1926:



A few years ago I decided to build a Baird "Televisor", and succeeded in transmitting a 30 line image similar to this:


Funny - in 1926 a broadcaster could transmit sound via radio, or picture via radio. But not simultaneously. How far we've come.

About ten years later, Baird had increased resolution to 600 lines, and used a rotating three-color filter, to produce this color image of Paddy Naismith, a well known British aviator.


Our family got our first TV set in 1949. So - what are your first memories of "the magic box"?

01-27-2016, 09:38 AM
I think it was 1947 when we got our first TV. It was a big issue on our road, as everyone saw the big antenna on the house. The Friday night fights was a popular program and when all the neighbors, (we lived out in the country), found out about it, we had a house full of people every Friday night. They must have come from miles around, I guess by word of mouth. The ladies usually played cards while the men watched the fights. Here's a close picture of what it looked like. Very high tech! :highly_amused:.
Oh yeah, we had 3 channels, ABC, CBS and NBC. Tv came on at 6PM and off around 11. Only test patterns showed the rest of the times.


01-27-2016, 10:43 AM
Our family got our first TV set in 1949. So - what are your first memories of "the magic box"?

I was born late enough (54) that I don't remember ever not having a TV (black and white). It wasn't until a couple of years ago that we got our first High Def flat screen at 1080p. WOW, what a difference! And now they have televisions that are 4K! Speaking of 4K, the movie Wizard of Oz has been scanned (from original film) and perfectly restored! The san was done at 4k so I expect it to come out in 4k as soon as there are players that will play 4k video. We own the Blu Ray (1080p) version and it is unreal how good it looks!

01-27-2016, 10:52 AM
Basil - I'm not *quite* old enough to remember the actual first broadcast of a play on television. "The Queen's Messenger", 1928, broadcast here in the USA using the General Electric mechanical scanning system (similar to Baird's).



01-27-2016, 12:15 PM
My first memory is in Japan from 1959 to 1963.


01-27-2016, 12:45 PM
My first clear memory is of a small black and white portable set in the basement. And the reason I remember it is that the first broadcast memory is of watching the Kennedy procession from the White House to the Capitol for his body to lie in state. Saw a rebroadcast of the procession a year or so ago, was amazed how fuzzy and indistinct it was in comparison to what we've grown used to now where HD can show the individual hairs on someone's head.

01-27-2016, 01:29 PM
Our first color TV - 1955.


Neighbors kept popping in to ooh and ahh. Funny: first night we had it, we watched Dragnet. Color was terrible. Next morning Dad called the station (WBAP in Fort Worth TX) and asked why the color was so bad. Their reply: "It's a black and white show".

John Turney
01-27-2016, 09:12 PM
We got our first TV in '57 when we moved to the "Big City." Until then, there was no TV signal.

Speaking of watching the fights reminds me of the cartoon, with Mom holding a coin saying to child: "Heads we watch Ed Sullivan, tails we watch Walt Disney, and if it lands on the edge, your Father can watch the fights."

01-27-2016, 10:30 PM
There was also a period of time (mostly 70's) when some developed "slow scan TV" in amateur radio. I remember using a station at Northwestern University in about 1978... chatted (with images) with the Ottawa Museum of Science and Industry. This was all very slow (maybe a handful of seconds to produce an image and broadcast it on HF - about 14megacycles).

01-28-2016, 07:30 AM
Mark - take a look:


01-28-2016, 01:00 PM
Thanks Tom.
Nice that someone is keeping all this history alive.

01-28-2016, 04:46 PM
Born in 1950, there was a TV in the house well before I was. We had two channels, 2, KDKA (on air since '49, first with NBC and later CBS) and VHF channel 13, WQED (PBS) in '54. NBC put their station on line in 1957 as channel 11, WIIC. Sometime in the early '80's they changed into WPXI. ABC came late to the party as channel 4, WTAE. Hurst owned from the jump, in 1958. Earliest memories of that time are Dave Garroway, Buffalo Bob & Clarabell, and all the horse opera shows on Saturday mornings.

Dad got an RCA color TV before NBC was running color broadcasts. He and an E.E. pal built color bar generators and would tweak the color guns and "tune" the thing for entertainment (and my education!). Once the peacock came along with Bonanza and Disney on Sundays, we'd have a living-room full of relatives and friends to watch the programs. By that time the antenna went from a short mast on the side of the house to a forty-footer with a rotating motor on the roof.
Weird, how things have evolved.

01-28-2016, 05:42 PM
Our antenna was small by comparison to the later models, it had one tubular rod on one end and two on the other end connected with 180 degree turn backs. Our antenna rotor was pop! He would get on the roof, mom would raise a window and yell to pop, turn it some more, no not that way the other way! This was a 30 min. ritual at least once a week. :highly_amused: I get a kick out of just thinking about it. Your right Doc, just look how far we've come. :encouragement: PJ

01-28-2016, 08:02 PM
We also had a similar antenna (they're called "Yagi" in the ham world). Ours was on a tall pole. Some we knew had motorized ones to steer it to another antenna.
Gads, those where the days!
Later I had one in my own home but in the attic.

01-28-2016, 11:39 PM
The first i saw was a neighbour's in 1953 for the Queen's coronation. About a 12" screen and a room full of people. I sat on the floor in awe.

01-29-2016, 07:31 AM
One of the "monoscope" test patterns. We saw these every morning just before 6am, when live TV went on the air.


And who remembers the flag flying, and The Star Spangled Banner, as TV shut down each night?

01-29-2016, 09:00 AM
I remember the first guy around that had a TV. He was the local country store owner. My mom, dad and I would go over and watch a program with he and his wife on Friday night. Then they would turn off the TV and talk about it. Imagine that, actually talk.

01-29-2016, 12:32 PM
By that time the antenna went from a short mast on the side of the house to a forty-footer with a rotating motor on the roof.
Weird, how things have evolved.

we recently cut the cable & went back to a small HD antenna mounted on the side of our house and aimed toward the local broadcast towers ( about 20 miles away). Image is just as good as 1080p cable or satellite ( most of the time).
we get 26 channels (most of the time) and are saving about a $1000.00 a year.

only downside is we don't get ESPN channels so we have to make other arrangements for some college football games.
never used the other 500+ Channels anyway.

01-29-2016, 12:42 PM
I'm the same way, have an HD antenna and get everything I care to see, for the most part. For those on pay cable I want to watch, I get the DVD sets when available. Still ends up cheaper than paying for a bunch of stuff I'm either not interested in or am not home to watch anyway.

01-29-2016, 12:51 PM
I'm still paying for a big package... little I use. Let's hope that the coming age of ala' cart use will be here sooner.

01-29-2016, 06:11 PM
For those on pay cable I want to watch, I get the DVD sets when available.

For movies & general entertainment we use a roku box & watch Netflix shows most of the time. (Not surprising, our favorites lean toward british TV.)

01-29-2016, 09:20 PM
We had a set built for us in 1949 by Marshall Wilder, a neighbo rwho worked at CBS Labs.It was the first in our neighborhood. There were only 3 channels in New York at first - 2,4 and 5. CBS, RCA and Dumont. We saw hockey and baseball games, wrestling. Milton Berle, Dave Garroway (At Large) who owned a Jaguar SS100. The picture was always going out of synch, either horizontal or vertical, and my dad spent much time kneeling down in front of the set "milking it" as we called it. He later bought a large plastic lens which when placed in front of the small picture tube, magnified it into a large picture, guaranteed to produce eyestrain and a headache after a few minutes of staring into it. Plus if you were seated off to the side, you saw nothing. Our first color set was a Magnavox, bought to view the first Super Bowl game in 1966.