After 70 Years, Playback for Baird's Video Recordings; AFTER 70 YEARS PLAYBACK FOR BAIRD'S VIDEO RECORDINGS

Daily Mail (London), December 30, 1996 | Go to article overview
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After 70 Years, Playback for Baird's Video Recordings; AFTER 70 YEARS PLAYBACK FOR BAIRD'S VIDEO RECORDINGS


Byline: ROBERT FAIRBURN

FOR years historians have admired the fact

that television inventor John Logie Baird also made the world's earliest video recordings.

But despite marvelling at his achievement, they had never managed to see it with their own eyes.

In fact, neither had the Scottish-born electrical engineer because his equipment was not sophisticated enough.

However, thanks to the latest technological wizardry of computer experts, the 70-year-old, three-minute recordings on 78rpm have at last been seen.

The world's first practical video recorder was made in America by the Ampex company in 1959, but Logie Baird made his recordings on discs almost three decades earlier.

Now 70 computer experts at the Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford, Yorkshire, have managed to decode the discs which reveal the first recordings of moving television pictures, a breakthrough that has thrilled historians.

The museum's senior curator of television, John Trenouth, said: 'The hairs on the back of my head stood on end when I saw those pictures. It was like the opening of Tutankhamen's tomb.'

The recordings date from about 1927, soon after Baird patented his television system.

One shows Emily Pounsford, a temporary secretary working for the inventor at his London studios. She tosses the ringlets in her hair as she apparently talks to someone off camera.

Others show Baird's assistant Wally with 'Stookie' Bob, the head of a ventriloquist's dummy which was the first image broadcast by the inventor.

The museum has played back all six of the experimental 13in discs known to exist, but Mr Trenouth is hopeful that others might be uncovered.

Four are in private ownership, one was presented to the Science Museum by Baird in the 1930s, and one is held by EMI.

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