Scots inventor to get Emmy 130 years after death

A Scottish inventor is to receive a prestigious Emmy award – more than 130 years after his death.

A Scottish inventor is to receive a prestigious Emmy award – more than 130 years after his death.

Alexander Bain, who died in 1877, will be honoured at a ceremony in Las Vegas for his pioneering work in the field of image transmission which was used in the development of television.

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Accepting the Technology and Engineering Emmy Award on his behalf will be East Dunbartonshire Council, which maintains his gravestone in Old Aisle Cemetery, Kirkintilloch.

Bain’s achievements also include the invention of the electric clock, but he is perhaps best known as the inventor of the facsimile machine, which he patented in 1843.

The posthumous award given by The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (Natas) recognises Bain for “the concept of scanning for image transmission”.

Many people are familiar with Emmy awards as the annual prizes recognising performances in drama and comedy in the US, but they also honour development and innovation in the broadcast industry.

Arrangements are being made to have Bain’s Emmy delivered to Scotland following the 67th Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards at the Bellagio Hotel on Friday.

Council leader Rhondda Geekie said: “Our predecessors publicly noted the importance of the inventions of Bain and pledged in 1959 that his headstone be maintained in perpetuity.

“Bain may have had to wait over 170 years for his achievements to be honoured but the Emmy will be a source of great pride for the people of East Dunbartonshire and Scotland as a whole.

“The council will ensure it goes on public display in the hope that this prestigious award will help bring the innovative work of Bain to the attention of a new generation of budding young engineers.”

Bain’s early form of image transmission combined elements of electric clocks and telegraphs, but the breakthrough came with the concept of scanning an image and then transmitting it so it could be reproduced elsewhere.

It was the first time that an image was ever transmitted from one location to another and introduced the concepts of scan lines, pixels and frame and line synchronisation used in all modern television ­systems.

Ivan Ruddock, president of the Kirkintilloch and District Society of Antiquaries, wrote an article in 2012 exploring the link between Bain and the fundamentals of television.

He said: “Alexander Bain invented the electric clock and made important contributions to electric telegraphy, but it is for his invention of facsimile transmission in 1843 that he deserves to be remembered and honoured by the award of an Emmy.

“It involved the concepts of image scanning, transmission and reconstruction, which are the basis of television, and all modern forms of image recording, storage and ­distribution.”