Earliest TV

Baird tried in 1927 and 1928 to build a videodisc playback device (called a ‘Phonovisor’ using specially recorded discs (which he called ‘Phonovision‘) similar to the 78rpm audio discs of the day. The special nature of the recording would mean the pictures ought to play back very simply and be completely stable. That was the theory. After experimenting for some time, Baird publicly abandoned it as the results were too poor. A few of the Phonovision discs were donated or just given away, preserving them for the future.

The Baird Company broadcast their own regular scheduled programmes from 1929 to 1932 on an experimental basis. The BBC picked up the baton and started the BBC Television Service on the Baird 30-line TV standard, broadcasting from 1932 until 1935, when the service was shut down to prepare for the higher definition service from Alexandra Palace. During those years of 30-line TV, a few folks were encouraged by articles in technical magazines to record the video signal at home. One of the surviving discs is datable from its content to April 1933 as it’s the world’s first television revue, called ‘Looking In‘. Another of the discs is a video recording of Betty Bolton, who appeared many times on 30-line television and was a star of vaudeville, west-end musicals, radio and film.

These recordings were all made on slight variations of John Logie Baird’s 30-line mechanical television system. The disc recordings are all original and have significant historical importance.

Miss Pounsford extractPhonovision Experiments: 1927-28

Recorded less than two years after the first demonstration of television, these are the original Baird experimental recordings from 1927-28. Only six discs are known to exist, with five unique recordings as two of discs are from the same pressing.

Betty Bolton extractThe ‘Marcus Games’ discs: 1932-35

Privately recorded 30-line recordings originating from and believed to have been made by Marcus Games. These discs are now owned by Jon Weller G0GNA. Believed to be recorded between 1932 and 1935 and almost certainly featuring starlet of the 1920s and 1930s, Betty Bolton. These were found, transcribed by Eliot Levin and restored by me in 1998

Paramount Astoria Girls, April 1933 The ‘Silvatone’ Recording: 1933

A private recording of the BBC transmission “Looking In” with The Paramount Astoria girls, 21st April 1933, recorded as a television special only 8 months after the start of the BBC’s regular Television service. This disc is absolutely unique and was discovered by Dave Mason, transcribed by Eliot Levin and restored by me in June 1996.

‘Major Radiovision’ frame‘Major Radiovision’ Recording: 1934

The first commercially available test disc of stills (1934), intended to test out ‘Televisor’ Receivers. This was sold through Selfridges in 1935.

‘The Man With The Flower In His Mouth’

The close-to-authentic remake (1967) of the first simultaneous audio/video television play. This remake used an original Baird Televisor operating as a camera and was reportedly supervised by the original producer, Lance Sieveking, of the play when first broadcast in 1930.