2001 Kraszna-Krausz Awards (see below)
295 pages, 150 half-tones
Institution of Electrical Engineers; ISBN: 0 85296 795 0
Cover design (left) © IEE 2000
Click image to enlarge
Announced 5th February 2002, in a Press Release for the 2001 Kraszna-Krausz
Moving Image Book Awards, "Restoring Baird's Image" was one of two books
awarded a Special Commendation in the Business, Techniques and Technology
category from an overall shortlist of 25 from over 250 books submitted
internationally. The judges described it as "a marvellously revealing
account, a testament to Baird's visionary contribution to thinking about how
the moving image might be accessible in recorded form more than half a
century before the advent of the commercial video disc."
Synopsis (back cover
"John Logie Baird, Britain’s
foremost television pioneer, experimented with video recording onto
gramophone discs in the late 1920s. Though
unsuccessful at the time, his experiments resulted in several videodiscs,
some 25 years before the videotape recorder became practical.
These videodiscs – called Phonovision – remained neglected over
the decades, considered by experts as unplayable.
In the early 1980s, the author sought out and restored
the surviving Phonovision discs. Using computer-based techniques in an
investigation reminiscent of an archaeological dig, the author has not
only revealed the images on the discs but also uncovered details of how
the recordings were made. The Phonovision discs have now become recognised
as one of Baird’s most important legacies.
In 1996 and 1998, amateur ‘off-air’ recordings of
the BBC’s 30-line Television Service (1932–35) were found, giving us
our first view of what viewers were then watching. The author’s
restoration overturns established views on mechanically scanned
television, providing us today with a true measure of Britain’s heritage
of television programme-making before electronic television.
well as helping to explain a poorly understood and complex period in
television’s history, this unique book, heavily illustrated with
previously unpublished or rarely-seen historic photographs restored by the
author, sheds light on the achievements of Baird, the development of video
recording and the definition and invention of television itself."
Also you can read the synopsis
description at the IEE website.
more, Restoring Baird’s Image does it remarkably well,
covering not only Baird’s contribution to television and allied
sciences but providing a conspectus in miniature of television
development down to present times, whiles still keeping its subject
within bounds. Moreover, the author’s passion for his subject (and
scholarship) shine clearly through, making this book the most
authoritative book on Baird’s work yet published."
EXTRACT from FULL REVIEW:
"Ask most Britons who invented television and the answer will
come John Logie Baird. Far fewer could tell you what he achieved and
when, however, and it’s precisely that haziness that this new book
serves to clarify.
copyright British Journal for the
History of Science. Vol 34 Pt 2, No 121, June 2001
"Scholarly research and "can't put it
down" writing are rare companions. Don McLean has succeeded
magnificently in conveying the excitement of unearthing and restoring
recordings of Baird's 30 line TV pictures.
It would be picking at the tiniest nits to say that the title is a
little misleading. The heart of the book is undoubtedly the discovery
and restoration of the recordings of Baird's 30 line images but there
is much more than this. A brief but perceptive tour of the history of
imaging and television, a review of later video recording systems and
important thoughts on the problems of archival permanence are all
valuable elements whose presence is not suggested by the title.
The writing style may be informal but McLean's treatment is rigorous.
Due care taken to separate fact from opinion and I have little doubt
that the historical details are as accurate as diligent research
allows. The selected bibliography brings many useful references
together in one place. I cannot really gripe about the very small
number of typographical errors which do not mislead the reader.
The main conclusion of McLean's work is to revise our views on the
Baird 30 line transmissions. It is now clear that they were much more
than crude engineering experiments and contained material of real
entertainment value. In the world of history "revisionism"
is often a dirty word. In this case our attitude towards Baird should
have been changed as a result of genuinely new evidence.
I have only one significant criticism. Much of the quality of Baird's
images is only apparent on moving images. Blame the lack of a CDROM on
the IEE, not the author. Web addresses are ephemeral but you can see
the moving images at http://www.dfm.dircon.co.uk/.
The IEE has published this book at a relatively affordable price and
it deserves to reach a wider audience than would normally buy IEE
Buy, read and enjoy."
copyright Jeffrey Borinsky MIEE
CEng and BVWS (British Vintage
Wireless Society) November 2000
"As the title
suggests, this book deals largely with the retrieval and restoration
of Baird’s 30-line television pictures recorded on shellac and
aluminium discs over the period 1927-35.
Many authors writing about the history of
television are faced with the difficulty of finding something new and
prefer not to quote too often from earlier accounts written by other
people. Donald McLean manages to avoid most of these problems since he
is in the unique position of being able to describe a form of
television archaeology never attempted before.
Written in a conversational style, this book
covers a considerable amount of new ground. It is copiously
illustrated and 40 of the photographs have never been published
flavour of the infant years of television is captured most
successfully and the book represents essential reading for everybody
with an interest in those days."
from NBTVA newsletter, August 2000)
(Click for FULL UNEDITED REVIEW)
"In 'Restoring Baird's Image' the author
has given a fascinating account of his discovery of the recordings and
of his subsequent treatment of their images. The latter is an
outstanding example of 'television archaeology'."
Engineering Science & Education Journal, Feb 2001
"Don McLean has presented a revision of the
history of television presenting a new perspective on the work of
Baird, the inventor of ‘failed’ technologies. I have long thought
that history written from the perspective of 'successful' technologies
is an unnecessarily restricted exercise. It is too easy to dismiss
'yesterday's technology' as misguided, primitive, crude, and leading
into blind alleys and so on.
is interesting on several levels, ranging from the representation of
Baird and his work to a truly
fascinating account of the discovery of and
the unraveling of the content of early video recordings.
This lively and engaged work presents
the history of television in a way rarely seen, and introduces a new
approach to an understanding of the process of invention that Baird
Dr Colin A Hempstead,
Visiting Research Fellow,
School of Law, Arts and Humanities,
University of Teesside
must admit that when I first received this book, I thought it would be
just about the restoration of images from the original Baird
Phonovision recordings. Well, it is much more than that. It reads more
like a television history book, all connected by Baird and his
If you read this book, you will have a much better
appreciation for Baird's contributions to television as well as for
the work it took for Don Mclean to bring back these images to us in
real time. This is a fascinating book, once you start, you won't want
to put it down.
The book contains a large number of photos and
illustrations, many of them the first time in print and all of them of
the very best quality. I recommend this book to you highly."
Warson Woods, Missouri,
(from review page on Amazon.com, October 2000)
Engrossing...if you are technically minded
I found this book difficult to put down. After reading on Mr Mclean's
website about his restoration of Baird 30 line discs I waited some
time for this, more technical, description of the electronic
For anyone like me who wants to know the details of what Donald has
achieved and how he did it, this book is fascinating. For less
technically minded folks it has many sections which are still very
interesting and lots of pictures and illustrations. All in all a
fabulous book, written in a friendly style which will stand as a
landmark publication on early television. For the first time we know
for sure something about what the earliest transmitted TV programmes
were like, their content and technical quality. We also have direct
evidence of problems Baird faced in developing his TV system and how
he attempted to overcome them.
McLean is restoring Baird's image in more senses than one, not only
has he restored 70 year old video discs, he has also restored the
reputation of Mr Baird and his television system.
(from review page on Amazon.co.uk, 16th Feb 2001)
WOW WHAT A BOOK!!! For all you 30-line television afficianados the
images in this book are GREAT!! the images of Betty Bolton, "Stookie
Bill" and Miss Pounsford are even better than on the author's web
site. Highly Recommended for any lover of early television.
Review by Mike Zolotorow, of
Baltimore, MD as it appeared in full on Amazon.com May 2007,
The book is not available through me. However...
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