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John Tucker: The engineer who founded IBC

David Wood writes a heartfelt tribute to IBC founder John Tucker who sadly passed away in May 2011. "John Tucker not only knew the history of broadcasting, he was it and he did much more than be present at the making of our industry," said Wood.

By David Wood

In a viewing room in 2000 with John Tucker, squinting at the scratchy footage for my IBC keynote to mark the 50th anniversary of the EBU, we came to the very first international television contribution hook-up between Calais in France and the UK 50 years earlier. “I think I’m there on the right” said John.

John Tucker not only knew the history of broadcasting, he was it and he did much more than be present at the making of our industry. In the 1960s, John (then with EMI) was also one of the three founding fathers of IBC, along with Tom Mayer (Marconi), and John Etheridge (Rank Cintel). We live their dream today and it is with great sadness that I inform you that John passed away in May 2011.

I first met John in the 1970s during his IBA scholarship on how to help those with disabilities enjoy the media. The worthiness of this cause remains with me today. For some years in the 1990s, we were both complimentary lecturers at the post-graduate college in Montreux, the IAB. I taught the psycho-physics of quality, and John the more useful subject of how to measure it.

John did much to develop his baby, the IBC Conference. In the 1980s I was honoured to work with John and Norman Green to develop the idea and practice of IBC Panels. Then John asked Mike Cox and myself to help transform his group of IBC Corresponding Members into a new creative entity which would provide fresh ideas and high level contacts for IBC. This was the IBC Council. We tried to (and did) assemble the best media thinkers from around the world. They were also to provide the engine for the nominations for his much-loved IBC ‘John Tucker Award’. John so delighted in being able to recognise and thank the world’s technology ‘game changers’ – Stan Baron (the digital 4:2:2 standard), Leonardo Chiariglioni (the MPEG standards), Henri Mertens (satellite broadcasting planning), Mario Cominetti (DVB-S), and many other luminaries.

In recent years, John was not entirely in favour of the directions that IBC was taking – perhaps less technology focused than he would have liked. John remained immensely proud of what he had started. He leaves his amazing wife Noreen, a daughter and two sons, all blessed with his intellect and humour, and for us, of course, he leaves the best media convention in the world.