The Dawn of Color TVs

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It’s 2016 and as we sit here with our tablets, iPhones and flat and curved-screen TVs, it’s probably hard to imagine a life without technology, let alone color.

Well, it wasn’t until June 25, 1951 that the idea of a color TV program came to fruition. Yes, it’s no shock and it’s likely common knowledge that before this moment in history, the picture on the TV screen was in black and white.

It was on this day 64 years ago that CBS broadcast the first commercial TV program in color. Though this made television watching more enjoyable, the only problem was that not many could watch the program since the vast majority of households still had only black-and-white televisions.

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This wasn’t the first time that color was being considered for television. In fact, in 1948, the idea had been entertained, but when a scuffle of sorts took place within the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over the request for new TV stations and the fear of congesting the number of channels available, the FCC paused all new licenses while ironing out the issue.

So, it wasn’t until 1951 that CBS aired the first color commercial. By that time, the market had dramatically changed. Back in 1948, there were less than a million television sets and by 1951, there were well over 10 million.

What was the first color program? It was actually a musical variety special, Premiere, that was shown over a network of five CBS affiliates on the east coast. Like we mentioned before, the viewing of this program was restricted, because the program wasn’t available on black-and-white television sets.

It was estimated that in the New York area, there were only about 30 prototype color receivers available.

But, as time went on, more and more meetings between the FCC and the networks were taking place. Slowly, but surely, in the mid-1950s, more and more broadcasters in the United States and Canada were adapting to color broadcasts. It wasn’t until about the 1960s that the public actually began to buy color TVs.

The next time you’re relaxing and watching TV, take a second to think that only 64 years ago, the beautiful color picture that you’re watching was just getting started.

Now that’s some innovation!

Copyright Davison, 2016