Full-length reviews:

Other reviews:

“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.

McLean’s work 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 applied.”
— Dr Colin A Hempstead, Visiting Research Fellow, School of Law, Arts and Humanities, University of Teesside

“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 The IEE has published this book at a relatively affordable price and it deserves to reach a wider audience than would normally buy IEE publications.

Buy, read and enjoy.”
— © Jeffrey Borinsky MIEE CEng and BVWS (British Vintage Wireless Society) November 2000

“I 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 recordings.

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.”
— Peter Yanczer, Warson Woods, Missouri, USA (from review page on, 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 archeology involved.

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.
— A. Gulliver (from review page on, 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.
— Mike Zolotorow, Baltimore, MD (from review page on, May 2007)