Today in 1926: World's first TV demonstration takes place in London
Frith Street, Soho, 26 January 1926: On this day ninety years ago in this unassuming building at 22 Frith Street, London, television was first demonstrated to the world. I made a special journey there today to record the scene on the anniversary.
Scots engineer John Logie Baird developed his “televisor” and transmitted the first television pictures ever seen. The indistinct image of his assistant’s head struggled to overcome the distance between one room and the next. He went on to first demonstrate publicly a colour television system and, later, to develop the first purely electronic colour television picture tube.
Within a year of the first television demonstration in Soho, Logie Baird transmitted a long-distance television picture over 438 miles via a telephone line between London and Glasgow. This was followed by a transatlantic transmission in 1928.
In an atmosphere of rapid development, BBC transmitters were used to broadcast television programmes between 1929 and 1932. In 1936, on November 3, the BBC launched the world’s first public television service, initially restricted to London.
The premises at 22 Frith Street have been home to London's first Italian espresso bar, Bar Italia, since 1949. It is now a well-known meeting spot for Italians in the capital, especially when local football is being televised. Without Logie Baird's one-time presence in the upstairs rooms perhaps the fans would still have been listening to the match on the radio.