Baird's Phonovision

Baird's Phonovision

Quotations from Don McLean's page on his recovery of early 1928 Phonovision wax discs of John Baird

"There are only 6 Phonovision discs in existence. "The Phonovision discs are all similar indicating they come from a common source. They are all single-sided pressings (two copies of RWT620-11 exist) and resemble 10-inch diameter 78rpm wax audio discs. each lasting about 3 minutes. The label from the earliest recording is shown on the left. Two more of the five discs have a label just like this. The label is a standard 'Test Record' label from the Columbia Graphophone Company complete with date and catalogue number.... When you look at the discs there is the pattern caused by the video signal being synchronised to the rotation of the disc. This radial pattern is reminiscent of a CAV Laserdisc. It does not appear on the subsequent Major Radiovision or Silvatone recording as Phonovision uniquely was planned to have synchronisation of the picture from the disc itself."

The Silvatone system allowed consumers to purchase their own recorder and make pressings of 30-line BBC televsion broadcasts as early as 1930. [Picture of the Silvatone recorder was printed in the UK journal Television in December 1930 and is reproduced on Don McLean's page The Earliest Recording of Broadcast Television: Silvatone 1933]. The record had this label:

"Label: SILVATONE SOUVENIR. WILL ONLY PLAY WITH FIBRE NEEDLES.MANUFACTURED BY CAIRNS & MORRISON LTD.33 PERCY ST. LONDON W.1 TELEVISION 1933 Disc OD (Outside Diameter) 25.4cm, Groove OD 23.8cm, ID 10.75cm. Duration 3min58sec. 121 tpi. Aluminium disc, recorded on one side only." Don McLean restored the record in 1996 and "we now have four minutes of very recognisable and entertaining television. This is completely contrary to our conditioned expectations on these 30-line transmissions. As you might expect, the person who recorded this disc was selective about his video recording. He chose the first television revue - called "Looking In" - with the Paramount Astoria Girls who performed in April 1933. We have been told that 30-line transmissions were uninspiring with stilted presentations to the camera and highly limited in content. They were also supposed to be so poor in quality as to be unwatchable. Never mind that by 1935, the number of 30-line receivers throughout the country were numbered in their thousands. And all for a half-hour broadcast just before mid-night each night."

AES - Audio Engineering Society