The Dawn of Television Remembered (Double CD, audio plus Enhanced CD)
Donald F McLean
Narrated by Richard Baker
Reviewed by Jeffrey Borinsky CEng FIEE
Some of you will have read Donís book Restoring Bairdís Image. When I reviewed this book a few years ago I said that it really needed a companion CD for the moving images that Don had recovered from 30 line recordings. We now have much more than this in a 2 CD set. What do you get for your money?
All of disc 1 and some of disc 2 is audio from material recorded by more than a dozen pioneers including Tony Bridgewater, Marsland Gander and Ray Herbert. The narration and links are impeccably done by Richard Baker. This is a fascinating collection of reminiscences from the 30 line era continuing into the start of the high definition service from Alexandra Palace and Bairdís later work on colour TV.
The remainder of disc 2 is a substantial resource, primarily of material relating to Baird and British mechanical TV. I emphasise British. The author admits that it would have been beyond the scope of these CDs to cover work in other countries.
I donít want to repeat the complete contents list but you certainly get more than you might expect. First and perhaps most important are the restored results of all the known 30 line recordings. Many of you may have seen some of them in Donís lectures but itís wonderful to be able to view them at leisure. You can also listen to them. A 30 line image occupies only audio bandwidth and anecdote suggests that some TV pioneers could tell you roughly what was on the screen simply by listening to the ďvideoĒ signal! A hefty bonus is a complete PDF of Bruce Normanís book Hereís Looking at You.
There is also much for the serious researcher in the field of early TV. The unedited recollections of Bridgewater and others, as used for the audio presentation, are included as MP3 files. The author himself admits that these will be of interest to only a tiny minority but the publication in full of such significant primary source material is unusual and commendable. Explanatory notes and a comprehensive bibliography round off a comprehensive view of this period of TV development.
The booklet is well designed and informative. The CD format puts booklet space at a premium and the twelve pages of closely packed information can only be the barest introduction.
These CDs (and Restoring Bairdís Image) are much more than a technical history. The technology is inseparable from the social context. In almost 80 years, television has developed from an impossible dream to the all pervasive medium we have today. If you enjoyed the book, you will certainly want these CDs, if you donít have the book I will take the liberty of quoting from my own review:
Scholarly research and "can't put it down" writing are rare companions. Don McLean has succeeded magnificently in conveying the excitement of unearthing and restoring recordings of Baird's 30 line TV pictures.
On a technical note, you can listen to all the audio tracks on any CD player but you will need to use a computer (PC or Mac) to access the other material on disc 2.
The CD can be bought directly from the author via his web site at† www.tvdawn.com. The UK price is £15.50.
∑ Kelly Books: 01884 256170† www.kellybooks.co.uk
∑ Many BVWS meetings
∑ National Museum of Film, Photography and Television at Bradford.
If you do not have Donís book you can buy it directly from the IEE at £29 (discount for IEE members) or from the IEE book stall (discounted for all) at some BVWS and NVCF meetings
Restoring Baird's Image
Donald F. McLean
Institution of Electrical Engineers
ISBN 0 85296 795 0