A prestigious Emmy award which was awarded to a little known Scottish inventor 130 years after his death for his pioneering work in image transmission has arrived in East Dunbartonshire.
The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) decided to posthumously honour Alexander Bain (1810-1877), who died and is buried in Kirkintilloch, for his outstanding achievement in technical or engineering development.
Many people are familiar with Emmy awards as the annual prizes recognising television excellence - the equivalent of the Oscars in the film industry- but they also honour development and innovation in the broadcast industry.
Bain’s Technology and Engineering Emmy, awarded at the 67th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards in the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas in January, was given in recognition of inventing the concept of scanning for image transmission, said to be one of the fundamental principles of television.
During his lifetime Bain’s achievements included the invention of the electric clock and important contributions to the electric telegraph, however he is now known worldwide as the inventor of the facsimile machine, which he patented in 1843.
This early form of image transmission combined elements of electric clocks and telegraphs but the breakthrough was the concept of scanning an imageand then transmitting it so it could be reproduced elsewhere. It was the first time that an image was ever transmitted from one location to another and introduced the concepts of scan lines, pixels and frame and line synchronisation used in all modern television systems.
East Dunbartonshire Council, who maintain Bain’s gravestone in the Old Aisle Cemetery in Kirkintilloch, has been chosen as custodian of the award.
Council Leader Rhondda Geekie said: “Our residents should be proud of Alexander Bain and the arrival of the Emmy in East Dunbartonshire is sure to generate a lot of excitement in the local community and beyond.
“Arrangements are now being made to have the Emmy put on public display in the Auld Kirk Museum in Kirkintilloch so everyone can have the opportunity to see this prestigious award and learn more about the work of Alexander Bain.
“Bain’s achievements have gone relatively unnoticed in the 138 years since his death and it is important that we play our part in helping to bring his innovative work to the attention of a new generation of budding young engineers and help inspire them.”
Kirkintilloch and District Society of Antiquaries played a key role in ensuring the Emmy was awarded to Bain.
“President Ivan Ruddock wrote an article in 2012 exploring the link between Bain and the fundamentals of television.”
Dr Ruddock added: “Before Alexander Bain could create his fax machine in the 1840s, he had to invent the concept of image scanning, transmission and image reconstruction.
“Not only was he the first person to do this, but decades later these ideas were exploited by the pioneers of television, and continue to be the basis of all forms of the technology of images.”