Item #1088 Television (Seeing by Wire or Wireless), 1926. Alfred Dinsdale.

Television (Seeing by Wire or Wireless), 1926

London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, 1926. 1st Edition. FIRST EDITION, FIRST PRINTING OF THE FIRST BOOK IN ENGLISH ON TELEVISION. Handsomely cased in a pristine custom clamshell case, gilt-lettered at the spine and on the front board. Near fine.

In 1922, Alfred Dinsdale (1896-1974) began a serious study of “the problems of transmitting and receiving visual signals, namely, television. His resources were small and he lacked any formal research training; he also did not have access to workshop or laboratory facilities and his financial position was precarious. Regardless, Dinsdale rented an attic and began to assemble apparatus using what were, on the face of it, most unpromising materials.

“Dinsdale describes the technical problems faced by early experimenters (Jan Van Szczepanik, Boris Rosing, Denoys Von Mihaly and others), but focuses primarily on the work of the Scottish engineer John Logie Baird (1888-1946), the first person to produce televised pictures of objects in motion. In February 1924 Baird produced the first television image in outline, and in April 1925 he transmitted the first pictures between two televisions. By the following October he succeeded in transmitting images with gradations of light and shade, and on January 27, 1926, he successfully transmitted recognizable human faces between two rooms by television.

“Of Baird's early experiments, Dinsdale writes: ‘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, realised by the scientific world...’ (Dinsdale, p.49; Christie’s Important Scientific Books: Richard Green Library, 105 [the book sold for $16,250].

“Although he did not succeed in producing a viable system of television, Baird paved the way for future technical developments. Television reached a state of technical feasibility in 1931, and the first high-definition broadcasting system was launched in London in 1936 by the BBC under the direction of the Soviet inventor Isaac Shoenberg” (ibid). Item #1088

CONDITION & DETAILS: London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, LTD. Handsomely cased in a pristine custom clamshell case, gilt-lettered at the spine and on the front board. Original printed flexible hardboard with black lettering; no dustjacket. Provenance: Small “Alfred Willcox” signature on front board. Small octavo (7 1/4 x 4 3/4 inches; 183 x 122 mm). 62pp. Portrait frontispiece of John Logie Baird, 5 photographic plates and 6 full-page diagrams (12 total) all included in the pagination. Bright and clean inside and out. Near fine.

Price: $700.00

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