3D Television in World War II

I've just been to the rather useful library that we have on-site here at Kingswood Warren and obtained an article from "Wireless World". The cover of the issue in question ("Vol XLVIII No. 2") features a photo of "Women in Wireless" - three girls in their twenties, wearing headphones, operating a Morse key, etc. All of them in uniform. The date of the issue is February 1942, and there are references to the war on every page. Adverts contain little poems mocking Hitler. The subject of the article I wanted, though? "Stereoscopic Colour Television".

Yes, that indefatigable inventor John Logie Baird, after his company was liquidated at the outset of war and the television transmitters were turned off to prevent the Luftwaffe using them as navigation beacons, went back to his lab and decided to improve television for a post-war world. By 1944, when Lord Hankey was chairing a committee to look into that very subject, Baird was ready to propose not only colour, but stereoscopic 3D, too. The committee took a slightly more cautious view, recommending merely that "vigorous research work" into an improved television system be carried out, with colour and stereoscopy mere possible avenues of investigation. Of course, it wasn't until 1967 that the UK got colour television, and 3D TV remains only a novelty. Unfortunately Baird's proposals were entirely unsuitable for mass-market adoption: his approaches either relied on red/blue glasses (which don't lead to a pleasant viewing experience, and preclude colour imagery) or required the viewer to sit in a very specific location (which doesn't really work in the living room).

It's interesting to note that one of the other recommendations the Hankey committee made led to an increase in the BBC's investment in scientific and engineering research and the establishment of Research Department at Kingswood Warren. So perhaps I'll be the person developing Baird's proposals for 3D television into something practical, sixty years later...
  • Posted: 29/03/07 01:51PM
  • Category: BBC

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