Damien on… The Invention Of Television
So, who invented television? Any boy? House-point available?
Why, it was John Logie Baird of Scotland, was it not? NOT!!!
Fact. Television as we know it – was invented by a bunch of faceless guys in white coats at the EMI labs in Hayes, Middlesex. In ENGLAND.
History: come with me to the studios at Ally Pally, in the mid-’30s…
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, TV went out to rich Londoners who owned a 240-line Baird Televisor. While every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, it went out to those who had purchased 405-line EMI Televisions. Or it might have been the other way round. Never mind. And Sunday was reserved for God.
After a bit, this mad system was changed to alternate WEEKS.
And thus began the first standards war (to be followed by cassettes v. carts, VHS v. Betamax, HD DVD v. Blu-Ray, etc).
But back to the Art Deco era. The technicians HATED working on Baird nights/weeks – the equipment invariably broke down. On the other hand, EMI nights/weeks were usually trouble-free.
Why? Because the EMI system was ELECTRONIC, that’s why – whilst JLB’s system was a nightmare of Heath-Robinson electro-mechanical GARBAGE. While EMI’s cameras skated around the studio like demented dodgems, Baird’s cameras were the size of Volkswagens and were FIXED. The performers had to group in front of them.
In 1937, HMG finally decided enough was ENOUGH – and YANKED JLB’s system.
Eventually, WW2 intervened and the whole SYSTEM was mysteriously switched off – mid-syllable – with claims that didn’t stand UP. The British government said they were worried the system could be usurped by Hitler to spread propaganda.
Hardly likely, as only a few thousand monied Londoners could receive it, while MILLIONS of Britons tuned into Beeb RADIO every day – and they didn’t pull the plug on THAT.
No – the TRUTH can now be told: the REAL reason the TV signal got CUT OFF mid-syllable, as soon as HMG declared war on Germany, was because while Auntie’s radio transmitters (BIG things, they were) were located in fields, in the countryside, Ally Pally was smack-bang in the heart of SOUTH LONDON – and Whitehall was scared shitless Jerry would use it as a BEACON, for launching raids.
But as is usual with the British government, their knee-jerk reaction was totally unjustified. It took MONTHS for enemy bombings to start (the “Phoney War”).
Their action merely served to alarm the hoorays who could afford TV (luckily, only a TINY percentage of the public at large). HMG actually had PLENTY of time – and could at LEAST have waited for that damn CARTOON to finish.
Anyhoo, after the ’39-’45 argument was over, Auntie re-started transmissions with the same cartoon that had been running when the plug had been unceremoniously pulled. “The B.B.C. would like to apologise for the interruption…” – who said Auntie had no sense of humour?
And of course, it restarted with just EMI’s system (those who’d been unlucky enough to have bought Baird Televisors turned them into drinks cabinets).
Being electronic, it would lead to the Dolby, digital, Blu-Ray, NICAM, Hi-Def, 16:9, 50″ LCD systems, with studio cameras flying about all over the place and mini-cams you can fit into a matchbox, that we have today. Something that’d’ve been IMPOSSIBLE with anything Baird came up with.
So why DID the British government entertain this CRACKPOT in the FIRST place? This historian has a THEORY. Baird was not only a “Little Man” – he was also a SCOT.
For those unaware of British history, I should explain that until the recent “devolution”, Scotland was effectively RULED by WHITEHALL – in ENGLAND. A fact most Scots were not best pleased by.
And if HMG had left Baird’s ideas where they belonged – in the dumper – not only would they have been seen to have been shitting on the Little Man – they’d ALSO have been shitting on SCOTLAND.
Therefore, one STRONGLY suspects that the picture of thousands of brawny, haggis-wielding Scots descending on Downing Street was a tad more than the Manderins of Whitehall could stomach.
Which is why they gave his half-arsed system the go-ahead, KNOWING it would ultimately COLLAPSE – after which, they could trash it and claim that at least Baird had been given his CHANCE.
Of course, you won’t find this theory in any history book. John Logie Baird is still seen as a HERO. A SCOTTISH one. And whoa betide anyone who claims otherwise.
But never mind, Scotland. You guys DID invent tarmac roads, the mackintosh, pneumatic tyres and – bless you – Scotch Whisky!