Baird -v- Farnsworth – AGAIN

Bairdsit
I used to get an e-mail from somebody like every other week reminding me that John Logie Baird demonstrated a mechanical television system in 1926, and that he should be therefore regarded as the "inventor of television."  But until this morning It had been so long since I’d gotten one, I thought maybe the Baird crowd had finally seen the light (as it were).  So imagine my surprise when this showed up in my e-mail this morning:

– – – – –

From: "Bernard V. de Lara"
Subject:
just a few questions

Dear Paul :
 
I’m not American but just someone writing to you from France.  I was wondering : convincing though you are about Philo being the real
inventor of television, I found this British website that seems even
more convincing about Baird being the real inventor of television. I’m really
honest in trying to find the truth, but how do you account for the following
excerpts ?

— The man behind the demonstration was a 37-year-old Scotsman called John
Logie Baird. And what he showed on screen, 19 months before Farnsworth, was far
superior to  Farnsworth’s "blob of light", as it was famously described by
Albert Abramson in The History
of Television.

— When Neil Armstrong set
foot on the moon, the camera used to transmit the live pictures was based on
Baird’s Field Sequential Colour System, because this was the best and most
reliable available.

— Virtually nothing of Farnsworth’s technology is
delivered to our living rooms today.

 
Those were taken from the following site:
 
Thanks for any answer you can provide me with.
Bernard

– – – –

To which I have replied:

Dear Bernard:

As the website you mention points out, Baird’s system was mechanical.  It was obsolete the moment it was demonstrated.  Saying Baird invented television is sorta like saying that the first guy who hooked a horse up to a cart invented the motor car.   Or that the first person who put a match to a candle invented the light-bulb.

Farnsworth’s contribution was seminal:  it removed all the mechanical contrivances, and demonstrated a mastery of quantum physics previously unknown.  I like to call it "the leap from parts to particles."   I find Abramson’s assessment of a "blob of light" particularly laughable.  That "blob of light" proved a principal, and had Abramson’s own patrons — Zworykin, RCA — clamoring for the patent rights to that principal. 

I don’t question that Baird produced a television picture in 1926.  But
all that did was prove the need for a millennial breakthrough, and that
is what Farnsworth achieved; his "blob of light" paved the way to the
television industry as we know it. 

— When Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, the camera used to transmit
the live pictures was based on Baird’s Field Sequential Colour System,
because this was the best and most reliable available.

Well,
what good would a "Sequential Colour System" have been…. for a black
and white picture??  I cannot say for certain what video technology was
carried aboard Apollo 11; I have tried to figure that out but the
information is not readily available.  When I first met the Farnsworth
family in 1975, they told me the camera on the Eagle was Image
Dissector based, but I don’t frankly believe that, either.  But "Baird
Field Sequential" I find pretty absurd.

— Virtually nothing of Farnsworth’s technology is delivered to our living rooms today.

If
that statement was not so ignorant, it would be truly offensive.  While
it is true that television technology has advanced considerably in the
past 80 years — LCDs, DLPs, plasmas — Farnsworth built a portfolio of
patents during the 1920s and 30s that  were absolutely fundamental and
indispensable to the launch of the commercial medium.   The simple fact
is, were it not for Farnsworth’s contributions — the breakthrough of
steering and focusing of electrons — nothing would be delivered to
your living room today. 

Well, there’d still be radio.

I
don’t know if that answers your question, but that’s how I see it.
Parts and particles.  Without the latter, it’d still be radio.

–PS

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Paul Schatzkin

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6 Comments

  • This must be a typical arrogant American website

    Scotsman Baird invented Tv so deal with it!

    It’s bad enough you steal Bell as an american inventor

  • If the simple question is:

    Who invented television

    Then the answer is: BAIRD! Regardless of what Farnsworth did, he only IMPROVED on an original idea. With your line of thinking, we should be crediting the inventors of HI-DEF, or plasma screen, as being the true inventors of TV – after all, they have just ‘improved a product’ as well, haven’t they?

    Now i know it’s hard for you Americans to deal with the fact that when you were running around on horseback chasing injuns, we Scots were giving the world the most wonderful inventions, and i know Hollywood is doing it’s best to rewrite history, but you really need to deal with the fact that there is a world outside of the US … deal with it!!!!!!!!!!!

  • What people who post rants like this fail to recognize is this: Baird’s “invention” was itself an “improvement” of the ideas that had gone before — mechanical approaches to image transmission that were doomed from their inception due to the limitations of Newtonian physics.

    Farnsworth’s contribution — removing all the mechanics by focusing and steering electrons themselves — can hardly be construed as an “improvement” over anything. To the contrary, Farnsworth’s inventions constituted a breakthrough of epic proportions, a quantum leap in what man could do with the fundamental forces of nature that made true television possible.

    Farnsworth is the pivotal figure whose work made everything went before it — including Baird’s system — obsolete, and everything that came after — Uncle Milty, Neil Armstrong, Jed Bartlett — possible.

    I concede that Baird was first. “JJ” needs to concede that Baird was wrong.

    –PS

  • Let’s get this straight – i’m not disputing the fact that Farnsworth didn’t make vast steps towards the system that most resembles modern tv, neither am i saying that Baird was the pioneer – he did take a lot of things from earlier experiments to get where he did

    However – he was the first person to properly demonstrate tv, regardless of whether it was mechanical or not – anyone that followed him, no matter how great their work, can NOT be considered the inventor of television. That accolade should ALWAYS go to Baird – i think you will find this was my only point, and i stand by it!

    As for it being a ‘rant’ – well, i’m personally sick of seeing Farnsworth being referred to as the inventor of tv, not because of his achievement, but because of America’s desire to claim everything as their own. We already have another Scottish achievement (The telephone) as being invented by ‘american’ scientist Bell. (Excuse me, but being born in Edinburgh from Scottish parentage doesn’t make you American) In an era where Hollywood is frequently rewriting history to ensure that America was responsible for everything, then i’m afraid it takes rants like mine to make sure my country’s history and contribution to the world doesn’t vanish forever 🙁

  • >>>he was the first person to properly demonstrate tv,>As for it being a ‘rant’ – well, i’m personally sick of seeing Farnsworth being referred to as the inventor of tv<< OK, Farnsworth was the inventor of electronic TV -- the only kind the world has ever really known. --PS

  • ….he was the first person to properly demonstrate tv….

    Your use of the word “properly” here is the give away, for it embodies the fact that Baird’s invention was hardly original — it was a derivation of the principal first proposed by Paul Nipkow 40 years earlier.

    So much for “inventing.”

    …As for it being a ‘rant’ – well, i’m personally sick of seeing Farnsworth being referred to as the inventor of tv…

    OK, Farnsworth was the inventor of electronic TV — the only kind the world has ever really known.

    –PS