This Day in History: 1936-11-02

The world’s first regular television service is officially launched by the BBC. Based at Alexandra Palace in London, the service initially alternated (on a weekly basis) between two systems: Baird’s 240-line mechanical system; the Marconi-EMI 405-line all-electronic system. Studio A was the home of the Marconi-EMI equipment; Studio B was used for Baird transmissions.

As well as the obvious shortcomings of the Baird system in terms of picture resolution, it also involved an intermediate film process whereby images had to be processed on to celluloid before being played-out. This rather cumbersome element was a source of much frustration for producers and directors.

The BBC soon introduced ‘London television standards’ – 405-lines and 50 pictures per second – for all future broadcasts. This meant that Baird’s 240-line, 25 pictures per second system failed to pass the new threshold. On 6th February 1937, the Baird system was abandoned.