Who invented the mechanical television? Doodle celebrates its 90th anniversary

26 Jan 2016

John Logie Baird in 1925 with his televisor equipment and dummies “James” and “Stooky Bill”, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s been 90 years since the first live TV broadcast was made, with 1926’s device paving the way for revolutionary news coverage, the greatest dissemination of information ever (pre-internet), and the Kardashians.

So, who invented the mechanical television all those years ago?

Daisy Elizabeth Gandy was the world’s first reality TV star, with the business partner of John Logie Baird the first person to appear on live TV ever – that moment has been commemorated by Google with today’s Doodle.

Called a ‘televisor’, Baird’s device had been in the works for years as he grappled with converting the idea of radio into something all the more immersive.

Two years previously, he had transmitted an image 10m away, but the quality was dubious and he needed to fine tune his contraption in order to reach the mass appeal he craved.

John Logie Baird? Great Scot!

Born in Scotland, Baird was an avid engineer from an early age, setting up a telephone network on his street so he could chat with his friends.

He worked for Clyde Valley Electrical Power Company before taking it upon himself to revolutionise home entertainment with the first TV.

So, today, 90 years ago, in front of dozens of scientists in an attic of a London house, he gave the world’s first demonstration of true television.

John Logie Baird

A year later, he transmitted footage from London to Glasgow (438 miles), before going one better by linking London up to New York in 1928.

Baird wasn’t the only person working on TV systems, merely the first of a breed, with electronic TVs rendering his mechanical original obsolete within a couple of years .

New TV technology rendering previous models obsolete within a few years? No change there then.

So the next time you see people gormlessly staring at Keeping up with the Kardashians, or muted by rolling news coverage of parochial issues in some far-flung place, remember John Logie Baird and the first TV star, Daisy Elizabeth Gandy.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic