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EDITIONS
Thursday, 22 March, 2001, 18:43 GMT
How did broadcasting begin?
John Logie Baird
John Logie Baird: Made the world's first broadcast
Broadcasting is something everyone takes for granted, with entertainment on tap at the flick of a button. But how did it all start in the UK?

Guglielmo Marconi made his historic foray into broadcasting in 1901, when his wireless transmitted the first radio waves across the curvature of the earth.

The Italian entrepreneur's broadcast, from the Isle of Wight to Cornwall, sparked the beginning of the broadcast revolution.

Key broadcast dates
1901: Guglielmo Marconi's historic wireless broadcast
1922: BBC begins daily wireless transmissions
1926: John Logie Baird's first TV demo
1930: First TV drama: Pirandello's The Man with a Flower in his Mouth
1932: BBC's TV public service begins
1937: Coronation of King George VI
1939: Wartime closedown of TV
Proving countless doubters wrong, Marconi's radio waves were able to transmit from one country to another.

By 1922, the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) began its daily radio transmissions, and "listening in" to the wireless quickly became a social and cultural phenomenon in the UK.

Television took a bit longer to catch up.

Scottish inventor John Logie Baird's first TV was a crude effort, made from a washstand and tea chest housing a projection lamp and scanning discs cut from cycle lenses.

Held together with scrap wood, darning needles, string and sealing wax, it was a far cry from the huge, widescreen, multi-channel TVs on sale today.

Although there is a hot debate over who actually invented TV - the US, UK, Japan, Russia, France, Germany and Eastern Europe all have a claim - Baird definitely made the world's first broadcast.

tv set
TV is now part of most people's lives
Using a now defunct mechanical TV, Baird proved during a demonstration at London's Royal Institute in 1926 that it was possible to broadcast moving images.

And on 22 August, 1932, the BBC's television public service began.

By 1935, there were around 2,000 Baird Televisors in use, costing 100 per set (the price of a small car).

But his 30-line mechanical television service was closed down to pave the way for new technology.

The high-definition electronic Marconi/EMI service replaced it the following year, causing prices to fall significantly.

By the end of the 30s, 98% of the country's population could listen to the BBC's radio services. Nearly nine million 10-shilling (50p) listening licences had been taken out.

War curtails broadcasting

It also became possible to have a TV without sound, and people would use their radios as amplifiers instead.

But World War II put a rapid stop to further development - the last broadcast before the shutdown was on 1 September 1939.

TV remained silent until 1946, and the BBC radio's national and regional programmes were replaced by the Home Service.

And this was the face of British broadcasting until after the war, when normal services began to resume.


In DepthIN DEPTH
Broadcasting
Charting its past, present and digital future
See also:

22 Mar 01 | Entertainment
22 Mar 01 | Entertainment
22 Mar 01 | Entertainment
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