75 years of TV

It’s 75 years today since the world’s first regularly scheduled television service started broadcasting from Alexandra Palace. The BBC Television Service, now known as BBC One (you might have heard of it), began broadcasting on the 2nd of November 1936 and is now old enough to qualify for a free TV Licence of its own.

It was ten years earlier, in 1926, that John Logie Baird first demonstrated his electromechanical television system, presumably with Timmy Mallet’s “show your telly was made for” Wacaday in mind. Baird’s TV had only 30 lines (as opposed to the 1125 lines of today’s HD TV) and various experiments and test transmissions took place in the intervening decade, with the BBC getting involved in the early 1930s, broadcasting a few hours a week in this rather low-definition format. On this day 75 years ago, the BBC begin broadcasting regularly in 405-lines for the first time, a jump in picture quality several times greater than the recent shift from SD to HD, and around 100 people, who marketing people would now call “early adopters” and others would call “geeks”, were able to enjoy the first night. Following a rather unfortunate break in transmissions during the Second World War, the BBC Television Service became BBC tv and then BBC 1.

To celebrate, Alexandra Palace opens it’s doors to the public this weekend, for more details click here. If you want to read more about the early days of television, then it’s worth having a look at the detailed account on the Teletronic website, while for a look at the 75 years since, there’s an excellent list of some of the greatest moments of British TV over at the always-wonderful TV Cream.


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