Shelford Bidwell's picture transmitter and receiver, 1881.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Shelford Bidwell, inventor, anticipated what would later become television. Inspired by experiments with the photophone, Bidwell went on to attempt the 'telegraphic transmision of pictures of natural objects'. The photophone, invented by Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) in 1880, worked by transmitting sound on a beam of light. Bidwell used the principle of the Bakewell or D'Arlincourt copying telegraph, 'in which the variations of the current necesary to produce the design are effected by the action of light on a selenium cell'. Bidwell was President of the Physical Society from 1897 to 1899.