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John Logie Baird was born in Helensburgh and studied electrical engineering at the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College. He was awarded an associateship of the College in 1914 and went on to attend Glasgow University as a final year BSc degree student, but did not sit the examinations.
On the completion of his studies, Baird became apprenticed with Argyll Motors and went on to work with other firms, including the Clyde Valley Electrical Power Company. In 1916 he applied for military service but was declared medically unfit. Following this, he engaged in various private business ventures in Glasgow, London and the West Indies.
In 1922 he retired to Hastings in order to recuperate from ill health. He rented an attic in a small house and it was here that he began to experiment with transmitting and receiving visual signals. He had limited resources, but in 1924 his efforts were rewarded by a flickering image on his screen. He returned to London and was able to receive enough backing to enable him to give a public demonstration. This was given at Selfridge’s Oxford Street store in April 1925 and showed the transmission of crude outlines of simple objects. The world’s first demonstration of television followed on 26 January 1926 at the Royal Institution, London. In May 1927 the first demonstration of television between London and Glasgow took place, and in February of the following year the first transatlantic television broadcast was successfully carried out. On 30 September 1929 the BBC made its first television broadcast using the Baird 30-line system.
Baird married Margaret Cecilia Albu in 1931 and together they had a son, Malcolm, and a daughter, Diana. Baird died on 14 June 1946 in Bexhill-on-Sea in Sussex.
Baird was an honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Fellow of the Physical Society, and an Associate of the Royal Technical College, Glasgow.