Engineer. Born at Kimmerghame House in the Scottish Borders, Campbell-Swinton was educated at Fettes College in Edinburgh and undertook an engineering apprenticeship on Tyneside. Swinton is said to have set up a telephone system only two years after its invention by Alexander Graham Bell (1847 - 1922). He was the first to insulate electrical cables using a lead sheath for use on ships. He recorded the first X-ray image in Britain, only a month after the German Wilhelm Roentgen first demonstrated the technology in 1895 and went on to explore the medical applications of X-rays. He worked on a cathode-ray oscilloscope and wrote to the journal Nature in 1908 to propose an electronic system of television which the BBC eventually adopted in preference to the mechanical form of the technology demonstrated by John Logie Baird in 1924. Campbell-Swinton's system had been developed by Marconi-EMI into a usable technology.
His publications include The Principles and Practice of Electric Lighting (1884), a very early work on that topic. Campbell-Swinton was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1915.
He died in London.