Campbell-Swinton, Alan Archibald

Campbell-Swinton, Alan Archibald
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b. 18 October 1863 Kimmerghame, Berwickshire, Scotland
d. 19 February 1930 London, England
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Scottish electrical engineer who correctly predicted the development of electronic television.
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After a time at Cargilfield Trinity School, Campbell-Swinton went to Fettes College in Edinburgh from 1878 to 1881 and then spent a year abroad in France. From 1882 until 1887 he was employed at Sir W.G.Armstrong's works in Elswick, Newcastle, following which he set up his own electrical contracting business in London. This he gave up in 1904 to become a consultant. Subsequently he was an engineer with many industrial companies, including the W.T.Henley Telegraph Works Company, Parson Marine Steam Turbine Company and Crompton Parkinson Ltd, of which he became a director. During this time he was involved in electrical and scientific research, being particularly associated with the development of the Parson turbine.
In 1903 he tried to realize distant electric vision by using a Braun oscilloscope tube for the. image display, a second tube being modified to form a synchronously scanned camera, by replacing the fluorescent display screen with a photoconductive target. Although this first attempt at what was, in fact, a vidicon camera proved unsuccessful, he was clearly on the right lines and in 1908 he wrote a letter to Nature with a fairly accurate description of the principles of an all-electronic television system using magnetically deflected cathode ray tubes at the camera and receiver, with the camera target consisting of a mosaic of photoconductive elements that were scanned and discharged line by line by an electron beam. He expanded on his ideas in a lecture to the Roentgen Society, London, in 1911, but it was over twenty years before the required technology had advanced sufficiently for Shoenberg's team at EMI to produce a working system.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
FRS (Member of Council 1927 and 1929). Freeman of the City of London. Liveryman of Goldsmiths' Company. First President, Wireless Society 1920–1. Vice-President, Royal Society of Arts, and Chairman of Council 1917–19,1920–2. Chairman, British Scientific Research Association. Vice-President, British Photographic Research Association. Member of the Broadcasting Board 1924. Vice-President, Roentgen Society 1911–12. Vice-President, Institution of Electrical Engineers 1921–5. President, Radio Society of Great Britain 1913–21. Manager, Royal Institution 1912–15.
Bibliography
1908, Nature 78:151; 1912, Journal of the Roentgen Society 8:1 (both describe his original ideas for electronic television).
1924, "The possibilities of television", Wireless World 14:51 (gives a detailed description of his proposals, including the use of a threestage valve video amplifier).
1926, Nature 118:590 (describes his early experiments of 1903).
Further Reading
The Proceedings of the International Conference on the History of Television. From Early Days to the Present, November 1986, Institution of Electrical Engineers Publication No. 271 (a report of some of the early developments in television). A.A.Campbell-Swinton FRS 1863–1930, Royal Television Society Monograph, 1982, London (a biography).
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Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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