Description

    The First Book in English on Television

    Alfred Dinsdale. Television. [Seeing by Wireless]. London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, 1926.

    First edition of the first book in English on television, containing the first photograph ever taken of a television image. Small octavo (7.1875 x 4.9375 inches; 184 x 125 mm.). 62 pages. Halftone frontispiece portrait of John Logie Baird ("The first scientist in the world to demonstrate television"), five halftone plates, and six diagrams, all included in pagination.

    Original buff printed paper boards. Boards slightly browned at the edges, with an area of additional browning at the lower edge of the front board (measuring approximately 1 x 2.75 inches), corresponding to where a torn portion of the dust jacket was at one time folded up. Front hinge starting and the first gathering a little loose, very slightly shaken. Paper slightly browned at the edges. Previous owner's pencil signature at head of title: "G. W. Foss Jun / Jan. 5. 1927." A very good copy of this now scarce and fragile work. In the original pictorial dust jacket reproducing the photograph of the first photograph ever taken of a television image. Jacket slightly darkened and soiled, with a small piece (measuring approximately .125 x .75 inches) missing at the blank top edge of the front panel, a tear across the lower front panel and a small closed tear in the center on the front panel (both affecting the image and both repaired on the verso with tape), a few additional tiny edge chips and tears.

    After giving a brief history of television experimentation to that date, Dinsdale focuses on the work of Scottish engineer John Logie Baird (1888-1946). In 1922, Dinsdale "began to study the problems of transmitting and receiving visual signals, namely, television. His resources were meagre: he lacked formal research training, he did not have access to workshop or laboratory facilities, and his financial position was precarious. Nevertheless, he rented an attic and began to assemble apparatus using what were, on the face of it, most unpromising materials. His investigations attracted some very modest support, and by April 1925 Baird was able to demonstrate, in public, at Selfridge's Oxford Street store, in London, the transmission of crude outlines of simple objects. Later, on 2 October 1925, he succeeded in reproducing an image of an object, which had tone gradation. A formal demonstration was given to about forty members of the Royal Institution on 26 January 1926. This was the world's first demonstration of television (albeit at a very rudimentary stage), which had been sought by many inventors since 1878, when the possibility of 'seeing at a distance' was first proposed. It was an outstanding achievement. Subsequently his basic television scheme was adopted by inventors and companies in France, Germany, the USA, and elsewhere" (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography).

    Dinsdale describes Baird's early experiments: "Baird's weird apparatus - old bicycle sprockets, biscuit tins, cardboard discs and bullseye lenses, all tied together with sealing wax and string - failed to impress those who were accustomed to the shining brass and exquisite mechanism of the instrument maker. The importance of the demonstration was, however, realized by the scientific world" (p. 49).

    The book was revised and expanded in 1928, and in 1932, Dinsdale rewrote it as First Principles of Television. Dinsdale went on to become editor of the British Television magazine, which he founded in 1928.

    Shiers, Early Television: A Bibliographic Guide to 1940, 841.


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