An early history of British military television with special reference to John Logie Baird
Since the Publication in 1986 of The Secret Life of John Logie Baird by Tom McArthur and Dr. Peter Waddell the subject of J.L. Baird and his company's involvement with British military technologies has been brought to public attention. There has previously been no comprehensive academic assesment using primary sources of the suggestions offered in these books. Here is recorded British military television investigations from 1926 to 1946, with special reference to J.L. Baird, using previously ignored Public Record Office files and other sources. The precise role of J.L.Baird in Baird Television Limited (BTL) after the mid-1930s is discussed but still remains a matter for debate. This situation is important to the understanding of who was responsible for the variety of military projects undertaken by the Baird organisation. The technology of aerial reconnaIssance usmg television had a strong influence on British military television investigations. Television for aerial reconnaissance was the first military application suggested for the technology and became practical after the fighting services contacted J.L.Baird in 1926. This investigation continued with BTL into the 1930s and later included Marconi-EMI. These activities have had little previous assessment and yet significantly influence British military television history. During World War Two J.L. Baird personally investigated a facsimile system whilst being funded by Cable and Wireless. The technology used by J.L. Baird was based on a rapid processing camera for facsimile transmission. This technology had previously been investigated by his company in collaboration with the Air Ministry and Admiralty from 1937 to 1940 for Television aerial reconnaissance. There can remain no doubt that militarily useful applications of television, particularly for aerial reconnaissance, were a significant part of the investigations of J.L. Baird and his companies.