OTD 1944: Baird switches on colour television for first time

The very first electronic colour television was switched on 74 years ago today as Scots inventor John Logie Baird demonstrated his latest creation.

Early colour televisions for rent in Edinburgh at £1.53 per a week at at Grants department store in 1972. John Logie Baird demonstrated his first electronic colour TV almost 30 years earlier. PIC: TSPL.

Baird, who was born in Helensburgh, had toyed with cumbersome mechanical versions of colour television since the 1920s and began tests not long after he transmitted his first monochrome television picture in October 1925.

But on August 16, 1944, he gathered the press at his laboratories in Sydenham for the big reveal of the first fully electronic colour television display, which he called the Telechrome.

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“Television in natural colour and depth was shown in London yesterday,” a report in the Daily Mirror said.

“It will make television of plays, cricket matches and other events seem as real as if the viewer were watching the actual event,” the report added.

Reporters were given pairs of glasses to view the new technology, with one lens red and the other blue.

“Mr Baird’s assistant appeared on the screen smoking a pipe. As he turned to face the audience his pipe appeared to be coming through the screen.”

Baird, who attended Glasgow University and spent working in a munitions factor on the Clyde during World War One, died just two years later from a stroke a his home in Bexhill-on-Sea.

Inventors across the world worked to develop coloured television technology but it wasn’t until 1967 that colour pictures were broadcast in the UK.

The first transmission was made by BBC2 from Wimbledon.

By mid 1968, nearly every BBC2 programme was in colour. Six months later, colour came to BBC1.