90 Years since John Logie Baird’s First TV Demonstration

Tuesday 26th January 1926

90 Years ago today, one man’s demonstration has shaped the way that many of us live our lives today! On the 26th January, Scotsman John Logie Baird provided the first demonstration of his Mechanical Television to 20 onlookers.

Mostly made up of members from the Royal Institute. The Soho audience were stunned as Baird’s ‘televisor’ as he referred to it as produced a visual image of his business partner on screen. It was neither clear, nor very big but was spectacular nonetheless.

Baird’s business partner, Daisy Elizabeth Gandy, who’s face appeared on the screen was located in another room and as the grainy, imperfect picture arrived the doubters duly disappeared. Baird had to overcome a lot of disparagement during his development phase but all that changed with a small 3×2″ projection.

The original television model, invented by the Scottish television pioneer John Logie Baird, (1888 - 1946). It works as follows: A is the object to be televised; B is a rapidly-revolving disc with lenses through which the object is first reflected. C is a slotted disc which revolves at high speed, breaking down still further the light reflected from the object. E is the light sensitive cell which receives many flashes, each consisting of minute squares of the image, and generates electrical impulses which are transmitted to the receiving apparatus. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

John Logie Baird’s Mechanical Television worked using a series of heavy, quick, revolving discs which bore lenses around the edges. Focused on an object, the revolving discs could break down the light reflected by the object placed in front of them. These impressive discs then captured the light on the other side, turning the broken-down flashes into an electric code and by transmitting the code to a receiver, Baird was able to reconstruct the image of the original object.

Just a year after his successful 1st demonstration, Baird had already lengthened the distance of transmission from the few yards to the room next door where Daisy Elizabeth Gandy was to over 400 miles. The 400 mile distance used a telephone line between London & Glasgow and the hope of producing television across the country was rapidly becoming reality.

Within 3 years of the demonstration there were mass produced televisions on the market, from 1929-1937 the BBC continued to used Baird’s Development Company for it’s TV broadcasts, however the mechanical TV was surpassed by electrical TV in the 1930s.


By Jake Harvey


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