Happy 87th birthday to the 'television image'

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CNET Editor

Nic Healey can usually be found on a couch muttering about aspect ratios and 7.1 channel sound - which is helpful given that he's the home entertainment guy at CNET.

On 2 October 1925, the first television picture with a greyscale image was successfully transmitted by John Logie Baird.

John Logie Baird
(Credit: bairdtelevision.com)

Baird, a Scotsman living in England, had been experimenting with moving silhouette images since 1924, on a TV set that he had created using an old hatbox, a pair of scissors, some darning needles, a few bicycle light lenses, a used tea chest, sealing wax and glue.

But on 2 October 1925, he moved past the silhouette, broadcasting the greyscale image of a ventriloquist dummy head named "Stooky Bill". The image was in 30-line vertically scanned resolution, and broadcast at five pictures per second.

Immediately afterwards, Baird fetched 20-year-old office worker William Edward Taynton to see what a human would look like in greyscale.

Baird would later publicly demonstrate the transmission on 26 January 1926, by which stage he was up to 12.5 images per second.

Baird was a prolific — if not always successful — inventor. One of his lesser-known inventions was Phonovision, a system for recording television images onto phonograph records for later playback, something that he completed in 1928.

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