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The First Television Star

Who was the first person ever to be televised? Most of the books about TV - and everyone seems to be writing them these days - ascribe the honour to a Mr. William Taynton who is reported to have been used as the first human TV subject by the late John Logie Baird on that exciting fifth Friday in October. 1925. This was the day on which Baird, after months of patient, struggling experiment, exchanged the crude dummy’s head with which he had been working for the office boy of the room below his Soho workshop. With half-a-crown as an inducement to stay in front of Baird’s Heath-Robinson transmitter, the boy was the forerunner of all those people and things which daily and nightly look out of our screens.

There have been other claimants to this niche in TV history, notably Mr. Joseph Hammelford. of Ingestre Place. Soho. Mr. Hammelford says it was he, not Mr. Taynton. whom Baird saw - and subsequently forgot. So far no-one seems really sure - except Mr. Taynton and Mr. Hammelford. Eye-witnesses or contemporaries during 1925 have gone. But the latest book about TV records support for Mr. Taynton, though it is in the form of a quotation from someone else.

This is one of the few debatable points which arise in a recently-published book which seems likely to become a standard work on the history and progress of TV. Adventure in Vision gives its readers a very comprehensive coverage of the TV quarter-century - 1925 to 1950. The author is well-known to viewers, though they will not recognise his name. John. Swift has for some time written news and gossip items in the TV edition of the Radio Times under the pseudonym ‘The Scanner’.

‘M.J.’, writing in 1950.

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