Cinematheque Française – 16 Juin 2017

Posted on: June 18th, 2017 | Category: News

With deepest thanks to M. Laurent Mannoni for the invitation, I gave a talk in Paris at the Cinematheque Française on Friday 16th June. The subject was J L Baird – illustrated heavily with extracts from my video restorations.

M Mannoni has a passion for the earliest imagery in media, and there is nothing earlier in television than the experimental 30-line recordings made by Baird in the 1920s and made by viewers of the BBC’s 30-line Television Service in the mid-1930s. Bernard Tichit followed with a fascinating talk on the mechanical era of television in France covering largely the period from 1931-35.

Paper: ‘The Great British Broadcasting Competition’ published 7th April 2017

Posted on: April 7th, 2017 | Category: News

Prior to its appearance in the next available slot in the ‘Media History’ Journal, my latest paper ‘The Great British Broadcasting Competition: a multi-disciplinary analysis of the emergence of BBC television’ has now been published online at http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/ZGWj39cRwvayXhEdQfCg/full

The abstract is below:

‘The business reasons behind the decision to start the BBC television service in 1936 remain unclear despite the volume of literature on the subject. Additionally, controversy has persisted regarding foreign involvement in what has been considered a fully British system. What is apparent from the literature is an emphasis placed on the technical development, generally under-representing other aspects of television.

A new multi-disciplinary approach is proposed and applied here to explore the circumstances around the emergence of the service, together with hitherto neglected industry aspects: the business and commercial issues relating to broadcaster and suppliers. This paper highlights the primacy of the BBC television service as providing the first instance of what became a common template for live television creation whilst illustrating, with new evidence, foreign influence on British engineering development for the BBC service.’

 

Paul Reveley – Rest In Peace

Posted on: March 29th, 2017 | Category: News

On Sunday 12th March 2017, Paul Vernon Reveley died in hospital of pneumonia in his 106th year. He had been fit and well, but had fallen at home and was admitted to hospital for observation. Most unusually for someone of his age he had not been on any medication. Whilst under observation at the hospital he contracted a chest infection, which developed quickly into pneumonia.

So ended the life of our last direct link to the days of John Logie Baird. Paul had worked for 6 years for John Baird, five of which were working directly for him as his senior engineer. As such, of all the people associated with Baird, Paul had had the longest acquaintance with Baird as his direct boss. Paul retained an exceptional memory and enthusiasm for and keen knowledge of current affairs and could recall events in the 1930s as if they happened just a few years ago. This was evident to anyone who saw him in the BBC4 documentary, ‘Television’s First Night’, produced and directed by Peter Gauvain, shown on 2 Nov 2016 and repeated on 28 March 2017.

I had the honour to have known him since the late 1990s up until his death.

He is survived by a daughter.

There is an obituary on page 40 of the Royal Television Society’s Journal for April 2017.

Contacting me via the online form

Posted on: September 27th, 2016 | Category: Uncategorized

I’d be delighted to hear from anyone genuinely interested in contacting me. However please note that I will only reply if you identify yourself.

University of Glasgow acquires the Clapp Collection

Posted on: October 8th, 2015 | Category: News

I would like to congratulate the University of Glasgow in their acquisition of the collection of Clapp memorabilia surrounding Baird’s Transatlantic TV event. The collection comprised a Phonovision disc (SWT515-4) owned by Ben Clapp (Baird’s first technical ‘assistant’), Clapp’s amateur radio logbooks (W2CVJ/G2KZ) for the event and lead-up, and associated paraphernalia. The logbooks were made during operation of the two amateur radio stations that made possible the witnessed event in Feb 1928 of the reception and display of television images in Hartsdale, NY, from a transmission in Coulsdon near London. This had followed a witnessed event of receiving and displaying a television image in Glasgow, originating from London over a normal telephone line.

Both events were Baird’s reaction to being upstaged when AT&T gave a major and complex demonstration of long-distance television in the USA on 7th April 1927. Through staging these events and ensuring they were witnessed and publicised, Baird succeeded in re-establishing a perception of primacy in the field and in re-assuring his financial backers.

The Phonovision disc is one I first restored in 1982-3 (SWT515-4). From studying the content, Ray Herbert (then holder of the Clapp logbooks) and I were able to establish that this disc was used as a test in late 1927 – a few months before the event. Consistent with the faulty recording, no images were seen off the disc during the transatlantic tests (comments were made as such in the logbook). The identification of the earliest-known use of abbreviation ‘TV’ for television was made by Ray.

[For further info on SWT515-4 and Phonovision, either refer to papers in the Bibliography section or read the Phonovision section of this website. The transatlantic TV link with the disc is covered in my book ‘Restoring Baird’s Image’]

When Ray Herbert died, I became the custodian of the Clapp logbooks and looked after them for many years until their owner requested them back for sale by auction. I provided additional material for the sale including Clapp’s diary, at the back of which was the substitution cipher used to decode and encode certain words in the Morse exchanges during the tests.

The RTS’s longest-standing Fellow – Paul Reveley

Posted on: August 1st, 2015 | Category: Uncategorized

Paul Reveley, Fellow of the Television Society since late 1937, and television pioneer who worked with John Logie Baird in the 1930s, talked with me in June 2015. My article celebrating Paul’s full life in television and engineering is in the latest July/August 2015 issue of the Journal and is available at the RTS website (www.rts.org.uk).

‘Achievement of Television’ Paper is Editor’s Choice

Posted on: January 22nd, 2015 | Category: Uncategorized

Currently, Maney Publishing is offering free download of my paper (see earlier post) as one of their ‘Editor’s Choice’ papers. It can be found at: www.Maneyonline.com then click on the ‘Editor’s Choice’ tab. (This link works only when you enter the ‘Recent News’ area.)

IET reduce price of ‘Restoring Baird’s Image’

Posted on: November 27th, 2014 | Category: Uncategorized

The IET have announce a price drop until 19th December 2014 of many of their books including ‘Restoring Baird’s Image’. The book is now £17 against a list price of £34 and against a standard member’s 35% discount price of around £22.

It’s NOT obvious from their website, or even searchable from either their main website or via Google search. You would really need to type in –
http://www.theiet.org/resources/books/iet-books-half-price-sale.cfm
or ring +441438767328 or 01438767328 from within the UK.

Their instruction for phone orders is –

“To order simply quote the code “BOOKSALE50” for telephone orders.”

Hackers attack!

Posted on: November 1st, 2014 | Category: Site Updates

Thanks to someone flagging that the site had been hacked, I’ve now restored the site to its original status. The hacking was embedded advertising. Nothing more thank goodness.

It’s a sign of the times, that some person or people can break-in to your website and effectively spray-paint a lovingly-created canvas. This being the web, they get away with it. To me this is a waste of my time both trying to repair the damage these vandals have incurred and trying to find out how they broke in.

Paper on the ‘Achievement of Television’ published

Posted on: August 5th, 2014 | Category: News

The paper on ‘The Achievement of Television: the Quality and Features of John Logie Baird’s System in 1926’ has now been published in the July 2014 issue of the Intl J Hist Eng & Tech and is available at http://www.maneyonline.com/loi/het

The extract is available for all to view:

In January 1926, John Logie Baird gave what was considered at the time to be the first public demonstration of television. The image quality that people experienced can only be guessed; no details were released of the equipment and published reports were vague and inconsistent. Historians since then have been unable to add to the understanding and occasionally have confused the story through assumptions that are inconsistent with the available facts.

This paper explores the period around Baird’s first demonstration in detail using a new in-depth analysis of the original Baird equipment now in museums, and a new contextual analysis of the original published material. It describes the most likely status of Baird’s television system in use in early 1926 and the likely quality of what people experienced.