The History Of Color Television

History of Television

The History of Color Television

Television Facts

Inventors of Television


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Color television is something that we all take for granted today. When one talks of television, it invariably means a color television in today’s times. But before the invention of color television, it was not so. There was a time when owning a color television was considered to be the ultimate status symbol as it was not something that everyone could afford. Let’s take a look at where and how it all started. 

The first ever recorded mention of a color television system was way back in 1904. A patent given in Germany provides evidence to the fact that an idea for a color television was proposed at that time. But it was just that – an idea.

Come 1925 and Zworykin also conceptualized a color television system, which again was not converted into reality and did not succeed. It was as many as 20 years later, in 1946, when the idea of color television was mentioned again.

By 1946, the Second World War was history, and people in America wanted to make up for all the time lost to the war. Black and white television was thought of as old and it was time to do something new. This is when color television systems first began to be considered seriously.

In America, the color television war was fought by two giants in the television industry CBS and RCA. CBS was the first to develop a color television system that was mechanical. This system was inspired by John Baird’s ideas of color TV. Color television was thus a reality, but this first system was not compatible with any black and white television sets.

By 1950, the FCC had announced the CBS color system as the national standard, and by 1951, CBS had started color broadcasts in the East Coast of the US. Not to be left behind, RCA sued CBS as their system could not be used with the millions of black and white televisions across America, most of which were RCA sets.

The Korean War and the very public television war gave RCA time to develop a better color TV system than CBS. Their system was not mechanical like that of CBS but electronic and far superior. Finally, by 1953, FCC gave the nod to their color television system and color TV sets of RCA were available to the buying public from 1954 onwards.

Even though color sets were finally available, not many people actually went out and bought them as there were not even a handful of color programs being broadcast. It took another decade till 1966 for people to start making color programs for broadcast, which eventually made people begin buying color television sets.

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