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Title: The electronic imaging of Baird television
Author: Brown, Douglas
ISNI:       0000 0001 2411 9872
Awarding Body: University of Strathclyde
Current Institution: University of Strathclyde
Date of Award: 2000
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The work of this research identifies the electronic imaging developments of the Baird Television company during the decade from 1933 -1943. John Logie Baird was the pacemaker for the development of the infant television, founded the first British and German television company, and became the catalyst for further development by the wider industry. It will be shown that the engineers and scientists guided and promoted by the Baird Company became eminent in the television industry, and made significant contributions to the evolution of modern television and imaging systems. It is often stated that Dr Vladimir A. Zworykin of 'Westinghouse' and later of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) invented the iconoscope television camera, but it is seldom acknowledged that Philo Taylor Farnsworth demonstrated the first working electronic television camera, the image dissector. This innovative device made possible military night vision apparatus, image intensifiers, image converter tubes, the first scanning electron microscopes and image tubes for astronomy. A portable television camera with an imaging stage based on this device was used on the Apollo 11 mission in July 1969 to relay television pictures from the surface of the Moon. [1] Contrary to the popular belief that Baird was limited to mechanical expertise, Baird Television produced advanced electronic vacuum devices from as early as 1934. It will be shown that Baird Television manufactured a derivative of the Farnsworth image dissector known as the Baird electron camera, and later produced Baird iconoscope tubes and cameras. This research will show that Dr Sommer, a physicist at Baird Television, invented the most sensitive photocathode material available anywhere just before the Second World War. This major contribution later enabled the success of the RCA image orthicon, and subsequently electronic colour television. It will be shown that Baird Television had the expertise to produce and demonstrate a single-stage, direct-view, image converter tube in 1936. From 1937 the Baird Company asserted a leading position by demonstrating projection cathode-ray tubes designed to bring large-screen television to the cinema. Cinema Television was formed by Isidore Ostrer as a subsidiary of Gaumont British in 1937 which then held most of the stock of Baird Television, in effect it was Baird Television. Under a scheme sanctioned by the Court on the 17 December 1940 the undertakings and assets of Baird Television were acquired by Cinema Television to become a subsidiary of Gaumont British, `Cinema Television Ltd (Incorporating Baird Television). [2] The take over included some of the key technical people from the old Baird Company but they were quite unaware of any change. Although effectively the Baird Company officially ceased trading after it went into receivership in November 1939, the closed files on the Baird Television Company at the Public Records Office, London, [3] show that it legally remaine d in existence until the completion of the winding up of the first Baird Company, Television Ltd. This had been voluntarily wound up on 9 September 1930, and although deemed dissolved, was not finalised until 28 February 1942, by which time all sundry patents and assets were transferred to Baird Television Ltd. Hence the reason for Cinema Television carrying the title (Incorporating Baird Television) during the war years. Although the name 'Baird Company' is used by the work of this research and its sources to describe the war activities of Cinema Television from 1940, the name is used only in this loose sense. The personal diaries and memoirs of G. A. R. Tomes, a former Baird Television engineer, have supported the work of this research. These important sources assist in clarifying the Baird Company's electronic imaging contributions in the field of electronic camera tubes, projection tubes, photocells and radar tubes as part of the national effort during the Second World War. The 'Tomes diaries' were cross validated by original Baird Television documents, photographs, notebooks and memoirs supplied by the late Dr Szegho another former Baird employee. This research has located original Baird hardware including a cold cathode-ray tube (circa 1933) incorporating a Szegho-cathode configuration, Baird Company photo-cells, a Baird demonstration paddle-wheel television cathode-ray tube and a Skiatron radar tube. This research is supported with Baird company photographs (circa 1939 -1940) illustrating key Baird technologies, Baird products and the sophisticated apparatus of the Baird facilities. The above, together with Baird brochures, company documents and patent applications assist in presenting, for the first time ever, a balanced account of the electronic imaging technology of Baird Television.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available