Each month we celebrate the extraordinary contribution that engineers make.
The first reason ‘we love engineers’ for 2016 takes us from the Scottish Highlands to Las Vegas. This month, we celebrate the fact that Alexander Bain, the 19th century Scottish inventor and engineer, has been awarded a Technology and Engineering Emmy.
These awards honour organisations and individuals for technological breakthroughs that have had a significant impact on television engineering. In the case of Alexander Bain it recognises his achievement in inventing “the concept of scanning for image transmission in 1842-1843”.
Born in Watten, Caithness, Alexander Bain, an apprentice clockmaker, was the first to invent and patent the electric clock in 1840, he also installed the railway telegraph lines between Edinburgh and Glasgow.
However it is his work on one of the earliest fax machines, described as one of the fundamental principles of television, which has earned him recognition at this year’s award ceremony alongside present-day television leaders including Netflix and HBO.
In his facsimile machine, Bain used electrochemically sensitive paper soaked with a chemical solution to reproduce his message at the receiving station. This was the first time an image had been transmitted from one location to another.
The award itself, accepted by East Dunbartonshire Council, will be brought back to Scotland. You can see one of Alexander Bain’s electric clocks, this summer at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
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