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Emitron TV camera

used by the world’s first regular television service London,

A man looks through a camera at a woman. It is as tall as the man, consisting of a large, boxy camera resting on a tripod.
Exhibit featuring an Emitron television camera at Radiolympia, London, 1937. National Media Museum/ Science & Society Picture Library

The Emitron camera was the first electronic television camera in the world to be applied in regular 'high definition' broadcasting. Cameras of this design were used to provide the world’s first regular high-definition television service from Alexandra Palace in north London from 1936.

In the early-mid 1930s, two main companies were developing television systems in Britain: Marconi-EMI with its all-electronic system using the Emitron cameras, and Baird Television Ltd with its studio scanner, intermediate-film system and a Baird electronic camera. In 1935 a government committee set a minimum standard for future television transmissions and invited both companies to provide equipment for six months of trials of both systems.

Regular transmissions by the BBC started on November 2nd 1936, each system alternating week by week. Marconi-EMI equipment based around the Emitron camera proved to be far superior and the last transmission using the Baird system was on 30 January 1937.

Television transmissions in the London area continued until the start of the Second World War in September 1939. When the BBC restarted the service in 1946, limited resources meant that the original 1936 cameras continued to be used well into the 1950s.

National Media Museum

Alexandra Palace, London
Key Individuals
Alan Blumlein , Isaac Schoenberg,