Happy 50th Birthday To "Color TV"!

Discussion in 'TV Shows' started by David Von Pein, Mar 25, 2004.

  1. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    On March 25, 1954, Radio Corporation of America began manufacturing color television sets at its Bloomington, Ind., plant. It built 5,000 sets with 12-inch screens, known as the model CT-100 color receiver. They sold for $1,000 each, astronomical in those days.

    Full Associated Press Article.

    [​IMG]
    A U.S. serviceman views television with his family at the U.S. Limestone, Maine,
    base in this July 1, 1954 B&W file photo. Color sets overtook scenes like this in
    1967 when more color sets were sold than B&W sets for the first time.
    (AP Photo, Files)


    ----------------

    The first color TV broadcast I can recall came in 1966 ("The Flintstones"). Looked wild in color! [​IMG]
     
  2. Marty M

    Marty M Cinematographer

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    Astromical, is an understatement. I am guessing that the average income at that time was only around $5 to 6,000. That is a big percent of an annual income.

    A disclaimer here. I don't have any actual statistics, but I think we can assume that $1,000 was a high percent of the average families annual income at that time.

    My first memory of seeing a program in color was 1957 or 1958. I was at a friend's house and a WW II movie was being shown on NBC, the only network for color, initially. I remember seeing flame throwers torching caves to kill the Japanese. I can't recall the name of the movie.
     
  3. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    I wonder who first said to himself: "Hmmmm, my new Fischer 20 watt integrated tube amp has that extra input--maybe I could pop the back off the television set, hook up some wire to its speaker and run them over to the Fischer. Then we could hear Mr. Sullivan and his music guests properly........."

    LJ
     
  4. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    David, there's a similar thread underway in Display Devices. But ya know something? I want this one to remain open, and in it we can discuss the early days of color-television programming.

    As has been noted, for example, NBC was the first network to begin broadcasting in color. CBS didn't start doing color until the 1965-66 season. And ABC followed suit around the same time.

    My first glimpse of color television was at an NBC affiliate, where an RCA set was on display in a darkened room adjacent to the lobby. Tennessee Ernie Ford was showing.

    Our first color set was an RCA-based Admiral console purchased in 1964. And in those days, the television listings would indicate which programs were in color by listing them with a little "c" designation.

    Tuesday evenings were a drag because there were no colorcasts.
     
  5. DeathStar1

    DeathStar1 Producer

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    Heh, I wish I could take a picture of this old TV we have in our garage. It was probably my fathers fathers set. The screen looks like it's about 5 inches in height, and five inches in width, and it looks like it's about the size of a giant old raido box. Don't even know if it still works, but I wonder what the old color TV's looked like...
     
  6. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    For the experts...what were the first regularly scheduled programs to be done in color. I know that the Adventures of Superman went from B&W to color in the mid 50s and that the Cisco Kid was also in color. Considering that these were syndicated shows with low budgets, it's kind of amazing that they used color.

    Also, is it true that the early years of the Carson Tonight Show were all done in color? I thought I read somewhere that the B&W clips we're used to seeing (Ed Ames, et al) are B&W because we're watching kinoscope type tapes, not the original masters.

    Steve
     
  7. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    The "What was the first color TV show you remember seeing" topic seems to be of a similar "I'll-never-forget-it" nature akin to the JFK assassination. (Though markedly less important, to be certain.)

    Those very early color sets, though, IIRC were pretty horrid (quality and color stability-wise)...correct?

    I can recall, in fact, that first Flintstones broadcast being very bright, with many of the colors seemingly way off. But, then again, it could have been the fault of the TV owner, in screwing up the picture because we'd never dealt with color transmissions before.

    Did the 1965-66 sets have an "automatic" feature to lock-in the true color levels? I don't recall.

    I *do* recall the great big-ass knobs on almost all pre-1970 TVs. And the big control box sitting on top of the TV set to control our new-fangled antenna outside the house (which was great for us kids to climb on). [​IMG]
     
  8. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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  9. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    Anybody ever have one of these awful-looking things in their house in 1960?

    (Looks like something Klaatu had on board his spaceship in
    "The Day The Earth Stood Still".) [​IMG] ......

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Marty M

    Marty M Cinematographer

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    I recall that the only early color broadcasts that looked any good were the colored films on The Wonderful World of Disney. Most of the other early shows looked pretty bad in color.
     
  11. andrew markworthy

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    Just a point of pedantry here. The first colour television broadcasts were in the 1930s by a Brit called Logie-Baird. However, they were purely experimental and not a public service.
     
  12. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    How about the long warm up times and the little dot of light (in the center) after you truned it off. [​IMG]
     
  13. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Believe it or not, that big (and I mean big) old Admiral of ours was "tuned" by a factory-trained technician at the huge distributor for whom my father worked. Today, we would call it "calibrated."

    But early color TV was a hit-or-miss affair. As noted, some of the film-based presentations were pretty decent (Disney's Wonderful World of Color, Bonanza, Hazel, etc.). But live or videotaped fare was difficult to get right on consumer sets. Flesh tones often were either too pink or too green. The entire picture seemed to have a greenish cast to it.

    Things changed dramatically in my personal assessment of color broadcasts when my sister, in 1970, purchased and brought home this fantastic little, 13-inch color portable set made by a relative newcomer in consumer electronics sold in the U.S.: Sony.

    I cannot emphasize enough how dramatic an improvement those first Trinitrons made in the enjoyment of color television. Those once sickly green or pastel pink fleshtones started looking like real flesh tones. And that contrast!

    Made watching The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson a semi-tolerable experience (I was very much more a fan of Dick Cavett).

    And I really liked the quality of ABC-TV's color broadcasts as seen on that fantastic little Sony. I never went back to those "console" behemoths with their greenish palor and washed-out palatte.

    And, as a result, the very first television set that I bought for myself was a 15-inch Sony Trinitron in the mid-seventies.
     
  14. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    Pity the broadcasters had more respect for picture quality in those days than they do now with HDTV.
     
  15. Steve Phillips

    Steve Phillips Screenwriter

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    Many of the TV series that were *shot* in color were not necessarily *broadcast* in color until much later.

    This was done by forward thinking producers who knew that having color prints years later would likely prolong the life of the series in syndication. For example, THE LUCY SHOW began filming in color at the start of the second season in the fall of 1963, though from all reports CBS continued to air it in B/W until fall 1965.

    I think NBC did run BONANZA in color from the start in 1959, though few had sets to see it that way.


    It wasn't until fall 1965 that the networks really made the switch to almost all color, completely changing over shortly thereafter. Prime time shows came first of course.

    DARK SHADOWS was produced in B/W until mid-1967, which was pretty late, as most of the daytime dramas were in color earlier than that.

    Anyone know what the last B/W network series was?
     

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