John Logie Baird

john_logie_baird_01No 3 Crescent Wood Road today hidden behind bushes & trees

3 Crescent Wood Road, Sydenham
The home of colour television, high definition television and
John Logie Baird 1933-1946

John Logie Baird invented Television in 1926. He also patented a system which later became known as Radar. He helped the BBC begin the first public television service in 1932.

He moved to Crescent Wood Road on Sydenham Hill and established the world’s first major TV Studio and Broadscasting Complex at the Crystal Palace – less than a mile away.

His initial TV system was electro-mechanical and during the thirties Baird Television came under intense competition from a complete electronic system pioneered by Marconi-EMI. There was a dramatic ‘play-off’ conducted by the BBC & UK Government in 1936 for the first high definition (for the time) TV system. Marconi-EMI won and Baird Television was finished as a successful commercial enterprise.

But John Logie Baird did not give up. Instead he embraced electronic TV and with the aid of just two assistants continued work in his Crescent Wood Road laboratory. Here Baird developed of the worlds first colour television system – first at 600 lines which he successfully demonstrated in December 1940 at Crescent Wood Road. He later went on to test a very high definition version of 1800 lines – three times the definition of current colour TV and even higher than currently proposed High Definition TV systems. He also did pioneering work in 3D stereoscopic TV.

Baird testified to the Hankey Committee in 1943 on how post war television should develop. He argued for 1000+ line systems. This was not to be. The UK system upto 1964 was based solely on EMI’s 405 line system and even now is still only 625 lines. It may be a few more years before we see 1000 line colour television again in Sydenham homes.

The onset of war in 1939 meant that much of his work was believed to have been diverted in to the development of radar and other electronic systems to aid the war effort. This secret work is still classified so we will have to wait a little longer to hear the full story of John Logie Baird’s great work in Sydenham.

Baird has, however, left a legacy that we all still enjoy in our homes today. The Sony Trintron tube follows from his work on using a single gun colour cathode ray tube. A significant amount of pre-recorded TV uses the film scanning system of Rank-Cintel (who had takern over Baird’s Cinema Television) and the everyday video casstte recorder was the ultimate exploitation of electro-mechanical scanning in the reproduction of TV.

Baird’s work has rarely been fully recognised. The US actually declared their Philo Farnsworth to have invented TV in 1927 a later and an inferior system! Perhaps Sydenham should reconsider how it should recognise a pioneer who invented the most significant way people today access information and entertainment.

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