Milestone-Proposal talk:First demonstration of television 1926
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Recent scholarship on Jenkins television -- Administrator7 (talk) 09:25, 24 February 2016 (CST)
Donald Godfrey's recent (2014) biography of C. Francis Jenkins states that after his self-disclosed demos of April 1923, in June 1923 Jenkins had USN, Post Office, and NBS officials watch televised "movements of [Jenkins'] hand and other objects held by them in front of his 'radio eye' device." (p. 126). This was reported in the Washington Evening Star (June 15), Washington Post (June 15), and the June 25 issue of Time magazine (chapter endnote 27, p. 243).
The proposers of this (Baird) Milestone have contacted Donald Godfrey and established that the images referred to by Godfrey were not demonstrations of live television: 1- other commentators have said that Jenkins' June 1925 demonstration was of 'moving silhouette images' comparable to, but later than, the Baird March 1925 Selfridge images, a point which would support Baird's view in 'Television and Me'. 2- Godfrey has not provided a properly supported proof that 'the USA was first in television' 3-The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, in 2014 recognized Baird's achievement thus: The Honor Roll posthumously recognizes individuals who were not awarded Honorary Membership during their lifetimes but whose contributions would have been sufficient to warrant such an honor.
John Logie Baird (1888-1946) is inducted into the SMPTE Honor Roll in recognition of his lifelong contributions as a pioneer in television technology. His accomplishments include the first live television demonstration (in 1925), the first publicly shown color television system (1928), and the first fully electronic color television picture tube. The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) began transmitting with the Baird system in 1929. Baird continued to develop new technology including a mechanical color system in 1939 (adopted by CBS/RCA); a 500-line 3-D system in 1941; and an electronic 600-line color display in 1944. Baird lobbied for post-war standardization of his 1,000-line electronic color television system." 
Re: Re: Recent scholarship on Jenkins television -- Administrator7 (talk) 14:52, 31 May 2016 (CDT)
Discussion in recent emails seems to focus on honoring Baird rather than commemorating his accomplishments. It is well worth remembering that one of the "Five Most Important Things to Know about the Milestone Program" http://ieeemilestones.ethw.org/Milestone_Guidelines_and_How_to_Propose_a_Milestone is 2): "It honors the achievement, rather than the person or place."
To merit the IEEE's certification of an achievement, the IEEE History Committee relies on primary, documentary evidence before submitting a recommended nomination to the IEEE Board of Directors for a vote of approval. This nomination is subject to the same fact checking and justification of significance as, for example, the Nagoya Section underwent in nominating its Milestone for Development of Electronic Television, 1924-1941 http://ethw.org/Milestones:Development_of_Electronic_Television,_1924-1941. This Milestone is also a good example of honoring an individual's achievements in a technological area over a long period of time.
Wikipedia articles and other professional society honors are useful only as they provide primary or scholarly references to their statements of fact. Autobiographies and memoirs should be treated with great care since the writers naturally have a vested interest in their legacies. If the nominators are not working from primary sources to document an achievement, the most useful secondary sources are those with references back to primary sources. In this case, beyond the recent work by Godfrey, the proposers should consult two works by Russell L. Burns on behalf of the IEE (now IET): John Logie Baird: Television Pioneer (2000) and Television: An International History of the Formative Years (2004).
This Milestone is presently titled "First demonstration of television 1926." This naturally raises the question of the definition of television. If the proposers want to define the technology as the transmission of a live person or animal's motion in real time (first wired, then wireless in August), then they have to address the definition of what Baird did in showing members of the Royal Institution and London newspapers his live television display of business partner [Oliver Hutchinson on 26 January 1926 | http://www.bairdtelevision.com/firstdemo.html]; Jenkins did in broadcasting halftone moving images on a 10Khz channel in June 1925; and what Baird did in Hastings in 1924. On 9 August of that year he wrote to the editor of the Hastings and St Leonards Observer that he did not just claim to be the inventor of television but that earlier in the year he had shown members of the press and technical community "the actual transmission of moving outline images" and therefore was the inventor of television. (Burns 2000, p59) Further, there is a photo (p66) of a pleased Baird with the mayor of Hastings at the unveiling of a plaque in 1929 that reads "Television First Demonstrated by John Logie Baird from Experiments started here in 1924." The Institute of Physics has posted a plaque at 21 Linton Crescent in Hastings, stating that he "displayed the first television images in this house in 1923."
The documentation for Baird's 1923 television displays is obscure, but the British magazine Wireless Review of 15 December 1923 [describes Jenkins's system in detail|http://www.earlytelevision.org/pdf/wireless_review_12-15-23.pdf], printed also in the [December 1923 Popular Radio|http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Popular-Radio/Popular-Radio-1923-12.pdf], including the wireless transmission of the movement of his hand. This report suggests that the Baird "first" either be qualified to specify the human face, or simply state what he achieved without parsing it further.
If the proposers want to connect the transmission of moving images in grey scale with television as we receive it today, they would have to explain the addition of color, which Baird demonstrated in July 1928, and "high" definition, which we might define as an improvement in line density by an order of magnitude. Philo Farnsworth, RCA, and EMI accomplished this in the 1930s using fully electronic television technologies. RCA and EMI also added the crucial element of image storage during each electronic raster scan. It would be difficult to assert that Baird's legacy is the electronic television systems that became international analog standards, because the scientists and engineers working from a different technical approach that another Briton, Alan Archibald Campbell Swinton, began proposing in 1908. The digital video pioneers working with CCD cameras and solid-state circuitry in the late 1970s and 1980s would find a connection between their work and Baird's and Jenkins's similarly strained. Russell Burns takes care to distinguish the electromechanical television broadcasts of the 1920s as an early period of low definition television, based not only on the nature of the scanning technology but on the narrow broadcast bandwidth permitted television experimenters. The importance of Baird's work is less in the technical legacy for today than in showing that, despite astonishingly limited resources, he could add live sight to sound at a time when the public was still acclimating itself to wireless.
Jenkins did indeed make and sell televisions and kits at $USD7.50-135 for enthusiasts to watch his movies, or animations, that he began broadcasting nightly on the experimental 3XK television station in 1928. Jenkins's choice of not using live actors or film footage on his 48-line system is not an issue of technical ignorance since he had been working with cinema technologies since the 1890s and led the development of film standards with SMPE, which he founded. It is far more likely that he concluded that the poor quality of halftone reproduction within the technical and bandwidth limits of the time made it impractical and unappealing to viewers. Since he had a North American following estimated in the thousands, based on increasingly sophisticated kits made and sold between 1928 and 1932. Baird thought differently, and equally successfully, given the fact that the BBC adopted his system.
Re: Re: Re: Recent scholarship on Jenkins television -- Allisonmarsh (talk) 13:25, 3 June 2016 (CDT)
Have the proposers responded to these statements? It seems like a different citation might be in order. I'd suggest not voting on it on the call, pending further discussion with the proposers. If we do vote it, I would at the very least want to change it from passive to active voice and perhaps break it into two sentences instead of one long one.
- 1 Recent scholarship on Jenkins television -- Administrator7 (talk) 09:25, 24 February 2016 (CST)
- 1.1 Re: Recent scholarship on Jenkins television -- Microman (talk) 13:45, 17 May 2016 (CDT)