Famous Scots
- John Logie Baird (1888-1946)


Born in Helensburgh (there is a bust of Baird on the waterfront there - see above), Baird studied electrical engineering at the Glasgow Royal College of Technology (now Strathclyde University). He suffered from ill health and could not obtain regular employment so he turned to invention. An early failure was trying to make synthetic diamonds. For a time he worked in the USA, where a jam-making enterprise also failed.

Baird started work on the transmission of pictures and in 1925 he constructed a 30-line system using a mechanical scanner with a spinning disc. He demonstrated this to members of the Royal Institute on 26 January 1926. He transmitted pictures across the Atlantic in 1928. He started the first TV station in the world and provided broadcasts for the BBC, including the first outside broadcast of the Derby horse race in 1931.

A poor businessman, he did not have enough capital to develop his company and turned down an offer of 100,000 for his invention, saying he could not sleep at night with that amount of money. Meantime, the cathode-ray tube system was being developed by Marconi and the BBC adopted the rival system in 1937. But he continued to develop new sound and vision systems including high definition colour and stereoscopic television and a "phonovision" system recording video on a disc storage system, a fore-runner of compact discs. During the Second World War he was involved in the development of radar and fibre optics.

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