Friday, 23 October 2009

an early sensecam 1976

I started experimenting with sensecams when I was 17. I had left school, and this was a paying vacation job between school and going to university. My other paying jobs were writing for Practical Electronics and Electronics Today International. The company was Baxall Electronics, Bramhall, Stockport, Cheshire, and consisted of me the first employee and Malcolm Baxter the boss, and owner Don Hall . The company was based in a small wooden shed. Malcolm had invented "Watchman" a Eurocard size board full of TTL and analogue components that could be used to set a zone on a video image to send alerts. Typically a control knob would be used to set a maker over a door in the view, and so video recordings of intruders could be captured. I did the testing of these and other video devices. Vidicon tubes keep burning up. I confess I never did tell Malcolm it was my error. I learned a lot about signal to noise ratio in analogue video circuits, great fun. Malcolm was ingenious, the video signal and power went down same bit of cable. My job was to optimise the transistor circuit for the best signal to noise ratio. Baxall Electronics grew to become one of the largest supplier of CCTV in the UK and the world, with several hundred employees but was taken over in 2007. Cameras were initially put in the London Underground. 33 years later the UK now has more cameras in public than any other country in the world. You might be viewed up to 300 times per day on London Cameras.
Roll on Microsoft's Sensecam.

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