modern craft ideas

Long Before Commercial Television began in 1956,


Dot’s Uncle was part of it .. His name Tom Biddle (1898 - 1970)

NB : content re first broadcast has been amended (30.11.09)

Tom Biddle Pioneer First Television Australia Dot Brisbane Polytechnic

Dot’s mother was Maud Biddle. Tom Biddle was Maud's brother..

He was Dot’s uncle

Tom Biddle First Television Eliza family Dot's uncle

- Dot, herself, appeared on a TV game show "Concentration" with Terry Dear abt 1965

- Dot's grandson now works in broadcast TV, the medium her uncle pioneered ..

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  Growing up I heard the oral history that Tom Biddle (who was at family functions playing a large xylophone) had something to do with the first television broadcasts in Qld. From watching a DVD on the early history of Brisbane I better understood the significant part he played in the history of  television -  long before commercial TV began in 1956.

Our unassuming Uncle Tom was involved in the pioneering television broadcasts sent from the Windmill in Wickham Terrace, Brisbane way back in 1934.
Tom Biddle had served in World War I and was a multi-talented man being an A Grade Mechanic for Daimler & Mercedes and could play any musical instrument (cornet, harp, large xylophone) He was always inventing and it was that passion that had him included in the pioneering group of television experiments ... he was fascinated with electricity & lightning. He was also lecturer in electronics at the Brisbane Polytechnic. He lived at West End & Cannon Hill. In his later years, he drove a taxi. (source Tom Biddle's son).

A Brisbane researcher, Russell Nunn has spent 2008-2009 comprehensively researching these early experiments and the parties involved. He is also having the original transmitting equipment restored. His research has clarified a lot of grey areas (that a broadcast was made to an Ipswich home .. it was in fact to an outside broadcast mobile unit in the Ipswich area) and there were preliminary tests to other locations withn Brisbane. His research gives a phenomenal insight into early radio and television, not only the technical aspects but the personalities as well. Tom Biddle was just one in the group. The research will be released in the future.

What is incredible about the whole story is that the population of Brisbane in 2009 is more than 4 million people. So what are the chances that the following would occur:

a) the Russell Nunn had spent 2 years compiling data; found this site and from the photo of Tom realised that in his childhood, he had lived two doors away from Tom Biddle. He had even been in his house. As he grew up more than 20 years after the television experiments and Tom was no longer involved with it, there was no way to have known. He had also gone to school with Tom's son.

b) Russell had also worked for Ch 7 for 25 years .. by coincidence had wound up in the same media Tom Biddle pioneered and also the same media and the same television station where Dot's grandson worked.

c) it was only by chance that I had taken the photo of Dot watching the "Riverfire" broadcast .. (grandson did the motion graphics) and the chances were a million to one that, unbeknown to all the people involved, Russell, without knowing Dot, her grandson, his connection to Ch 7, his connection to Tom Biddle etc .. was in the outside broadcast team who were transmitting Dot's grandson's images .. .

d) Russ also had worked with Erich Gaeler & Wolfgang Kreuzer mentioned at the foot of this page.

The interconnectedness of people in the world is amazing.

Excerpt from Cr Tully of Ipswich's research:

Cr Tully of Ipswich said the (first) transmission had been sent by a group of enthusiastic amateurs headed by Mr Tomas Elliott who had been conducting experiments in the new medium after the first public display of television in the world by John Logie Baird in London in 1926. 

One of the first images transmitted was of the American actress, Janet  Gaynor.

The dedicated Brisbane experimenters had their licences withdrawn by the Commonwealth government in 1939 as a war-time measure and their historic amateur television equipment was put on display at Newstead House in Brisbane.

    These were some of the pictures transmitted 15 years BEFORE television began. That’s SOME achievement ..

  Gloria Gaynor first TV broadcast BiddleGloria Gaynor first tv broadcast Biddle Gloria Gaynor first TV broadcast Biddle
From DVD :  "A to Z Brisbane"
produced by radio station 4BC and Ch 9
Library reference: 994.31 ATO

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also works in television.

Kay McGrath Ch 7 newsreader plasma screenRod Young Ch 7 newsreader plasma screens

In 2006 he was doing the graphic images behind the Ch 7 6pm newsreaders in Brisbane

He has since created the introductory motion graphics sequences on Ch 7 for:

"Queensland Weekender" 2009
"Creek to Coast" 2009
“Riverfire” 2008 and 2009
and many television ads & other intro sequences.
Other examples are
"Qld Tourism Awards screen displays 2009"
"Hamilton Island Race Week"

He has produced work for Canada, England, New Zealand

as well as a motion graphics segment in "Dinosaurs on Ice" .. for the BBC's DVD

Dot watching broadcast of 2009 Riverfire broadcast on television which her uncle helped pioneer.

Dot early television silky oak display Brisbane city Hall April 2009

Television has come a long way since the test broadcast in 1934.
This photo was taken in April 2009 of Dot at the Brisbane City Hall - Museum of Brisbane's display of early silky oak furniture ..
the early television set on display had a silky oak case.

Dot was 31 years old before she was able to watch television .. living in Emerald, a small country town, it wasn't as common as in the city. When she moved to Brisbane in 1964, she saw it at her sister's home in Taringa.

Dot Television Set Phillips 25 inch 1974

This was Dot's television set in 1974 - a Phillips 25 inch.
Notice the high tech aerial!

Back in the early pioneering days of 1934, broadcasts were on a small black and white screen .. and even in the 1950's when commercial television began, it was still black and white & very basic ..
now we have giant screens, colour, high definition & quality sound ..
and we take it for granted.


Dot's grandson has the same passion for electronics & graphics and works in the medium his ancestor prioneered.

Using the motion graphic skills he has developed with wide experience on television broadcasts,
he has created a unique relaxation DVD titled:

"Infinite Tranquillity"

The DVD contains exquisitely relaxing images and sound combining some natural environments but mostly brilliant computer enhanced scenery. Many icons associated with relaxation, such as beaches, forests, stars, frangipanis, dolphins, rainbows, rainforests and Buddhas are used and the journey goes from an idyllic, uninhabited tropical island up through the clouds to the stars and beyond. The music complements the restful, calming and inspiring images.

Dot, as a child, was connected to the advent of television
and at the end of her life she was able to watch her descendant's work on the same medium.

Web site:

Infinite Tranquillity Dot Beach Frangipanis Beach Relaxation DVD

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Around 1965 – 1966 Dot appeared on a television show “Concentration” Ch 9 (Host Terry Dear). Ironically, the show was a memory game where the contestant picked two numbers on a board.

Prizes were behind the numbers .. a correct match and they won the prize .. that then revealed a part of a cryptic puzzle behind it. 
She won quite a few prizes.

Since 1998 and her brain surgery, ironically Dot has lost her memory gradually .. previously she had a sharp memory and brilliant thinking.

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Wolfgang Kreuzer early Ch 7 TV Erich Gaeler Channel 7 colour flood footage 1974 21st century fox cameraman
Wolfgang Kreuzer (friend) early Channel 7 employee (left) and
(right) Dot with Erich Gaeler, early Ch 7 cameraman,
who shot the only colour footage of the Brisbane 1974 floods.
That footage appears on television flood documentaries.
Erich aso produced early documentaries for 20th Century Fox and the news broadcasts in cinemas.