Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for anyone with interest TV technology history, 16 May 2013
This review is from: The Three Dimensions of Logie Baird (Paperback)
That John Logie Baird was a visionary is beyond dispute; that he might in some ways have been too visionary for his own good is a conclusion that's hard to avoid as this book reminds us of the astounding gamut of his endeavours. Even if Baird had lived long beyond his 57 years, it's unlikely that he would have seen the all the branches of his genius come into anything close to fruition.

Dr Douglas Brown's book does not set out to plot the full range of Baird's achievements, but even by page 67 (of 184) we have been apprised of several breakthrough developments, such as the Noctovisor (infrared TV), innovative telecine scanning, along with the 'intermediate film system' and primitive videodisc TV content storage systems.

Dr Brown says that Baird did more to advance the early development of television than any other individual - and his book is filled with evidence to prove it. Baird's dilemma was that he repeatedly pursued the long-term potential of his inventions long before he'd resolved their short-term developmental challenges. Multiple aspects of Baird's research programme between the 1920s and the 1940s have only entered the mainstream in comparatively recent years - such as big-screen projection TV and 3D image capture and display.

Other inventions, such as colour television, were only practically introduced in the US in the mid-1950s after the expenditure of millions of man-hours and millions of dollars; yet Baird had engineered at least some of the basics of low-definition colour capture and display before the end of World War Two, often working alone, and despite failing health, flying bombs, and rationed resources.

Although 'The Three Dimensions' covers Baird's work in black-and-white television in accessible, diagram-rich detail (the book includes a rare, fascinating photo of one of Baird's post-war 28in screen luxury receivers - the biggest anywhere at the time), it is his work in the areas of colour and three-dimensional TV that inform the main parts of this book.

Baird did not invent the possibility of broadcasting and displaying colour images, but his 'Telechrome' prototype was the first custom-designed colour television cathode ray tube, constructed with two (possibly three) cathode-ray 'guns', and a central transparent double-sided tri-band screen instead of the more conventional single fluorescent screen. This modification enabled component colours to be displayed when the different screens were scanned by an associated beam from the multiple guns, and superimposed on the middle screen section. Baird patented it in July 1942 - some three years before a patent for a colour TV system based on a similar three-coloured phosphor band CRT was registered in the US.

Amazingly, concomitant with this work Baird was much engaged with research into the feasibility of three-dimensional televisual image capture and display - a subject he may have been experimenting with since the late 1920s. His premature death in 1946 prevented Baird's 3D-TV proposals from developing under the aegis of his own genius but, as Dr Brown explains, proved essential in leading to the multi-dimensional viewing that's appeared in recent years. 'The Three Dimensions' is essential reading for anyone with interest in the development of television technology.
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