Entertainment & Arts

John Logie Baird recording saved for the nation

John Logie Baird Image copyright Topical Press Agency
Image caption John Logie Baird was an engineering student at the University of Glasgow

An anonymous donor with links to John Logie Baird's home town has stepped in to ensure a historic recording of his first transmission of trans-Atlantic TV pictures will stay in Scotland.

The 1927 footage, on a phonovision shellac disc, is the world's oldest surviving 78rpm piece of video.

It features Logie Baird's ventriloquist dummy Stookie Bill, which he used when developing his invention.

The recording will now be stored at Glasgow University.

It was part of a collection which was made subject to an export bar in April, following fears the collection would go to an overseas buyer when it was first put up for sale.

With the bar on exports set to expire on 29 September, the university has confirmed it is buying the collection with the help of an anonymous local businessman.

Image copyright DCMS
Image caption The collection also includes notes and letters

The donor lived for 20 years in Logie Baird's home town of Helensburgh in Argyll and Bute and wanted to keep the collection in the UK.

"I am delighted the collection has been saved and is now coming home," said the donor.

'Incredibly important'

"It charts such an important period of modern engineering history so I felt it could not, and should not, leave these shores to move abroad. It needs to be shared for future generations," he continued.

"John Logie Baird was a Helensburgh man and a Scottish pioneer who helped change the world, and with his ties to the University of Glasgow.

"It is only right and proper that this important collection should be coming to the university and hopefully it will help inspire future pioneering engineers."

The collection also includes the log books used by Benjamin Clapp, Logie Baird's assistant, while conducting Logie Baird's transatlantic television trials.

The books also contain the world's first known use of the acronym TV.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey said: "It's fantastic news that the John Logie Baird collection has been saved for the nation.

"He and his team made the UK a world leader in 1920s television technology, including the first-ever transmission of transatlantic television pictures.

"This collection will be incredibly important for the study of the history of television, and I'm delighted that it will remain in the UK."

Logie Baird was an engineering student at the University of Glasgow from 1914 to 1915, when he tried to enlist for war duties but was turned down on health grounds.

Logie Baird gave the world's first public demonstration of television in London on 26 January, 1926.

In 1927, he transmitted a long-distance television signal over 438 miles (705km) of telephone line between London and Glasgow. This was the world's first long-distance transmission of television pictures.

The phonovision disc was recorded during later experimental trials. It was transmitted on 9 February, 1928, marking one of Logie Baird's earliest television broadcasts.

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