The Color Revolution: Television In The Sixties

Although limited color broadcasts took place during the 1950s, it wasn’t until the early 1960s that color TV started to take off. Thanks in large part to NBC, color TV grew at a furious pace, culminating in the color revolution of 1965.

Color’s Early Years: The 1950s

Although experiments with color television had coincided with the development of commercial black and white television, it was not until the 1950s that attempts were made to successfully launch color television. On January 12th, 1950, the general public was introduced to color television for the very first time when CBS demonstrated its “field sequential” color system on eight television sets in the Walker Building, in Washington [1]. Faye Emerson was the main attraction in the demonstration, which had been ordered by the F.C.C.

The first commercial color broadcast took place at 4:35PM on Monday, June 25th, 1951, when CBS offered an hour-long program entitled “Premiere” to an ad-hoc network of five stations in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington. Among those participating in the program were Arthur Godfrey, Ed Sullivan, Robert Alda, Faye Emerson, William S. Paley and Frank Stanton (the latter two board chairman and president of CBS, respectively) [2].

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Thousands were able to watch the first color broadcast in auditoriums, department stores and hotels in the five cities, but the general public was left in the dark — literally. Because the CBS color system was incompatible with existing black and white television sets, for the hour the color special was on the air, viewers tuned to CBS in any of the five cities saw only a blank screen [3].

RCA demonstrated its “all-electronic” color system for the first time on October 9th, 1951. The test was also broadcast on WNBT, and because RCA’s system was compatible with existing black and white television sets, viewers were able to watch the demonstration (in black and white, of course) [4]. On October 16th, RCA sent a fifteen-minute color variety show to San Francisco and Los Angeles, the first transcontinental color transmission. However, word of the test was withheld until early December on orders from AT&T [5].

On October 25th, manufacturing of color television was put on hold at the request of Defense Mobilizer Charles E. Wilson and the National Production Authority due to scarcity of metals and the conflict in Korea [6]. The ban was lifted on March 27th, 1953 [7]. And on December 17th, the FCC approved color specifications from the National Television System Committee (NTSC) for a color system compatible with existing black and white sets [8]. Color television was officially here to stay.

Color Adoption Slow

For a variety of reasons, including a lack of adequate production facilities for color television sets, the expense involved in converting existing television stations to color transmissions, and the cost of color sets for the general public, the adoption of color television was slow. During the first six months of 1954, fewer than 8,500 color television sets were manufactured in the United States [9]. And for those households that owned a color set, only a small percentage of network broadcasts were even in color. During the entire 1954-1955 television season, for example, CBS only made nineteen color broadcasts [10].

By 1958, there were an estimated 350,000 color sets in the United States, the bulk of which were manufactured by RCA [11]. That number had jumped to 500,000 by early 1960 [12]. The more color sets in use, the more potential eyeballs for color programming — and more importantly, from the advertiser’s point of view, color commercials. Still, the only network actively pushing color programming was NBC, which had 179 affiliates broadcasting in color by February of 1961. NBC “color days,” which started in November of 1960, saw the bulk of an entire day’s worth of programming broadcast in color [13].

An April 1961 editorial in Television magazine entitled “The Time Has Come for Togetherness on Color” noted that in the seven years since the FCC approved color standards, the “black-and-white television system […] has passed the peak of its growth.” Color, on the other hand, “is still in the egg, and only skillful and expensive handling will get it out of the egg and on its feet.” The editorial called for “color activity at both the transmitting and receiving ends. People won’t buy color sets to see a majority of programs in the same shades of gray the old table top model in the corner delivers” [14].

However, even as NBC was increasing its color output, CBS was placing the impetus in the hands of the advertiser. In 1963, the network was broadcasting in color only if an advertiser would help pay for the added cost [15].

The Color Breakthrough

Two years later, another editorial in Television magazine declared that “the surge of interest in color in the past six months marks September 1965 as the date of the long-awaited color breakthrough” [16]. What led to this surge in interest? The battle for ratings. A preliminary study released in March of 1965 by ARB (and paid for by all three networks) led NBC to announce that its color programming would give it a 1.4 ratings-point advantage over ABC and CBS [17]. The study compared 4,600 color homes with 4,600 black-and-white homes. ABC and CBS cried foul, arguing that NBC had not checked the data.

According to ARB, the report was rushed to the networks before a final check could be performed because the networks could not wait. NBC acknowledged that there were some errors but insisted they were not significant [18]. In any event, the thought of NBC enjoying any sort of lead in the ratings simply because its programming was in color provided the impetus the other networks needed to jump headfirst into color broadcasting.

NBC planned to broadcast the vast majority of its primetime programming — all but two shows — in color at the start of the 1965-1966 season. Only Convoy (because of black and white stock footage) and I Dream of Jeannie (due to the cost of expensive special effects) would be aired in black and white [19]. Initially, both ABC and CBS planned to broadcast only a fraction of their schedules in color: ABC six and a half weekly hours and CBS only three programs per week [20], [21].

In May, CBS had upped its color quota to 28%, representing nine programs, including Lassie, My Favorite Martian, The Danny Kaye Show and Gilligan’s Island [22]. As for ABC, by adding The King Family and The Hollywood Palace to its color slate, the network hoped to have one-third of its schedule in color by September [23].

By June, the count stood at 50% for CBS and 33% for ABC and both networks claimed they would be all-color for the 1966-1967 season [24]. Color was on its way!

Color Households On The Rise

If 1965 was the watershed moment for color broadcasting, there was still the small problem of the viewing public not having color television sets. According to NBC, there were only 2,860,000 color households in the United States as of January 1st, 1965 (though that was up from 1,620,000 on January 1st, 1964) [25]. By July 1st, the number stood at 3,600,000 and on October 1st it was at 4,450,000 color sets [26], [27]. NBC’s figure for January 1st, 1966 stood at 5,220,000, an 85% gain over the January 1st, 1965 number but still only 9.7% of all television households [28].

Here are some additional figures, all from NBC’s quarterly color estimates:

Date Color Households % of All Households
January 1st, 1967 [29] 9,510,000  
January 1st, 1968 [30] 14,130,000 Roughly 25%
January 1st, 1969 [31] 19,200,000 Roughly 33%
April 1st, 1969 [32] 20,560,000  
October 1st, 1970 [33] 26,200,000  
July 1st, 1971 [34] 29,700,000 Roughly 48%

From Black & White to Color

Programs that had started prior to the 1965-1966 season, or premiered in black-and-white during it, were forced to convert to color at the start of the 1966-1967 season, when all three networks were broadcasting their entire prime time line-ups in color, aside from news specials and films originally shot in black-and-white (much of the daytime programming on ABC and CBS was still in black-and-white) [35].

Shows that had to convert from black-and-white to color included, among others: The Wild, Wild West on CBS, one season in black-and-white (1965-1966) and three seasons in color (1966-1969); Gilligan’s Island on CBS, one season in black-and-white (1964-1965) and two seasons in color (1965-1967); The Andy Griffith Show on CBS, five seasons in black-and-white (1960-1965) and three seasons in color (1965-1968); Twelve O’Clock High on ABC, two seasons in black-and-white (1964-1966) and one season in color (1966-1967); I Dream of Jeannie on NBC, one season in black-and-white (1965-1966) and four seasons in color (1966-1970); and Bewitched on ABC, two seasons in black-and-white (1964-1966) and six seasons in color (1966-1972).

Switching to color wasn’t as easy as flipping a switch. Jack Chertok, producer of My Favorite Martian, told Broadcasting magazine in August of 1965 that there would be problems with some of the special effects used in the series: “Many of them depend on wires which we’ve kept hidden from viewers by using black wires against a black background. Now we’ll have to use colors matching the colored backgrounds. It will be harder but it’s not at all impossible” [36].

For programs that were in color the networks went to great lengths to insure viewers were aware of the vibrant entertainment they could be watching. Shows that had formerly been broadcast in black & white were now promoted as “In Color!” and promotional spots often made mention of the color status.

All of NBC’s promotional spots for the new fall season, used during the summer of 1965, were in color, while CBS reserved color only for those programs which would be broadcast in color [37].

After The Color Dam Burst

In January 1966, some 70% of the combined prime time programming from the three networks was in color; broken down, almost 100% of NBC’s schedule was in color, 51% of CBS’s schedule and 49% of ABC’s schedule [38]. NBC became the first all-color network when daytime game show Concentration switched to color on November 7th, 1966 [39]. In January of 1968, TVB found that households with color television sets were watching between 40 and 70 more minutes of television on a daily basis than households with black-and-white sets [40].

The rush to color began in earnest prior to the start of the 1965-1966 season and for the most part was completed by the time the 1966-1967 season rolled around. It was left to viewers to catch up with the networks and purchase color television sets in order or be stuck watching in crummy old black-and-white.

Works Cited:
1 “Public Sees Color Television for the First Time; Demonstration Is Ordered by the F.C.C.” New York Times. 13 Jan. 1950: 30.
2 Adams, Val. “Color TV is Here.” New York Times. 24 Jun. 1951: 85.
3 “Commercial Color TV To Have Its ‘Premiere’ Over CBS Monday.” Wall Street Journal. 22 Jun. 1951: 14.
4 “R.C.A. Color Video Shown to Public.” New York Times. 10 Oct. 1951: 21.
5 “Nation-Wide Test of Color TV Held.” New York Times. 7 Dec. 1951: 49.
6 “Color TV.” Wall Street Journal. 26 Oct. 1951: 3.
7 “Color Television.” Wall Street Journal. 27 Mar. 1953: 2.
8 Gould, Jack. “Compatible Color Approved For TV.” New York Times. 18 Dec. 1953: 1.
9 “Television in Review.” New York Times. 11 Aug. 1954: 33.
10 “C.B.S. to Increase Color Shows to 73.” New York Times. 7 Sep. 1955: 63.
11 Zipser, Alfred R. “Color TV Ascends at Westinghouse.” New York Times. 24 Feb. 1958: 29.
12 “R.C.A. Plans to Double Output of Color TV Sets, Sarnoff Says.” New York Times. 18 Feb. 1960: 45.
13 Williamson, George E. “Sales, Output of Color TV Sets Increase; Black-and-White Sets Continue to Lag.” Wall Street Journal. 1 Feb. 1961: 7.
14 “Editorial: The Time has Come for Togetherness on Color.” Television. Apr. 1961: 120.
15 “Policy on Color TV Is Outlined by C.B.S.” New York Times. 11 May 1963: 51.
16 “The Season When Color Came Out of the Egg.” Television. Sep. 1965: 72.
17 “Pay-off for NBC color next season?” Broadcasting. 1 Mar. 1965: 32.
18 Ibid.
19 Adams, Val. “N.B.C. Will Boost Use of TV Color.” New York Times. 9 Mar. 1965: 71.
20 Ibid.
21 Adams, Val. “C.B.S.-Owned Stations to Show Films in Color Starting in Fall.” New York Times. 12 Mar. 1965: 67.
22 “9 CBS-TV fall shows in color.” Broadcasting. 10 May 1965: 63-64.
23 “ABC adds two more to fall color lineup.” Broadcasting. 10 May 1965: 72.
24 “All-color TV only one year away?” Broadcasting. 21 Jun. 1965: 27-29.
25 “How soon will color dominate TV?” Broadcasting. 18 Jan. 1965: 31-34.
26 “Color TV sets up 26% over Jan. 1 figures.” Broadcasting. 9 Aug. 1965: 52.
27 “Color TV’s in use up 90% in 13 months.” Broadcasting. 15 Nov. 1965: 91.
28 “Over 5 million color homes, according to NBC.” Broadcasting. 7 Feb. 1966: 50.
29 “Color sets up 82%.” Broadcasting. 13 Feb. 1967: 58.
30 “25% have color TV.” Broadcasting. 26 Feb. 1968: 57.
31 “19.2 million color-TV homes.” Broadcasting. 27 Jan. 1969: 99.
32 “Color homes: 20.5 million.” Broadcasting. 5 May 1969: 67.
33 “Color climbs.” Broadcasting. 26 Oct. 1970: 4.
34 “Color it color.” Broadcasting. 26 Jul. 1971: 7.
35 Gowran, Clay. “Color TV bigger! better! brighter!” Chicago Tribune. 13 Nov. 1966: X1.
36 “The big switch to color television.” Broadcasting. 9 Aug. 1965: 54-56.
37 “Hoopla begins for fall TV season.” Broadcasting. 26 Jul. 1965: 82.
38 “Color on the networks: well on the way to 100%.” Broadcasting. 3 Jan. 1966: 75-80.
39 “Full color on networks seems certain in 1967.” Broadcasting. 2 Jan. 1967: 84-86.
40 “Color homes push TV viewing to record high.” Broadcasting. 15 Jan. 1968: 62.

Originally February 15th, 2005
Last Updated April 26th, 2018

70 Replies to “The Color Revolution: Television In The Sixties”

  1. Because of Bill {“Mr. CBS”} Paley’s rivalry with “General” David Sarnoff of RCA (who owned NBC), and his impression that he was going to be damned if he’d let “The General” sell more RCA color TV sets if CBS increased their schedule of color programming, he declared that NO color telecasts would be scheduled on CBS after 1959. And he meant it- while NBC telecast weekly color series on a limited basis until 1965, CBS did not. This did not stop Lucille Ball from filming “THE LUCY SHOW” in color from season two onward, in the fall of 1963- even though CBS didn’t “officially” telecast the show in color until the fall of 1965. On the other hand, by refusing to allow Joey Bishop to continue filiming his sitcom in color after he moved from NBC to CBS in the fall of 1964, that killed any chance of selling his show in syndication after it ended in 1965 (a mix of black-and-white and color episodes were NOT what local stations were interested in). Finally, some CBS executives convinced Paley to forget his rivalry with Sarnoff and think about the future…which was going to be all-color, and that CBS would be “left behind” if they didn’t start scheduling at least PART of their prime-time schedule in color. Paley agreed to set aside his differences with “The General”, and CBS programmed about half of their prime-time lineup in color for the 1965-’66 season, going to 100% color [with the other networks] the following fall. Daytime, however, took about another four years to completely “convert” to all-color series [this happened when the network ended their daytime repeats of “THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW” in the summer of ’69].

    1. By 1965, it was possible for CBS to buy color cameras from companies other than RCA (read: GE and Philips/Norelco; CBS bought color cameras from the latter).

      Numerous other companies also began manufacturing and marketing color-TV sets by 1965.

      Plus, CBS executive Frank Stanton supposedly pushed Bill Paley to go color.

      1. Even before Philips/Norelco came forth with their PC-60 and later PC-70 (and, for The Ed Sullivan Theatre, special mumetal-shielded PC-71) cameras, and GE with their PE-240A 4-vidicon color film chains, CBS’s equipment replacement policy had been “anyone but RCA”; when their longtime TK-10/30 and TK-11/31 monochrome cameras were due for replacement, CBS went with Marconi Mark IV cameras. It was those that were used on The Beatles’ seminal Ed Sullivan appearances, as well as at the studio in the then-new Broadcast Center when Walter Cronkite anchored CBS News’ Election Night 1964 coverage.

        In 1966, CBS also contracted to have color Marconi Mark VII’s made for four of their O&O’s (except WCBS-TV which, because it was housed along with the network at the Broadcast Center, used the PC-70’s); I suspect it was because Philadelphia’s WCAU-TV went with the infamous RCA TK-42 cameras instead, that CBS brought the Mark VII’s meant for that station to the Sullivan theatre starting with the 1967-68 season. (The other three – WBBM-TV Chicago, KMOX-TV St. Louis, and KNXT Los Angeles – all used their Marconi color cameras to the mid-1970’s.)

        ABC, which would be left in a financial hole for many years because of the big color rush, ended up all over the map with color equipment: RCA TK-41C’s here, Norelco PC-60’s there, PC-70’s somewhere else, General Electric PE-250’s in another spot, and PE-350’s in yet another. (And that’s not counting the converter kits meant to raise the 250s’ performance to the level of the 350s’.) A photo taken backstage at the studio where ABC’s Election Night 1966 coverage was based showed PC-70’s and TK-41C’s in the same studio! Their owned stations were also anywhere and everywhere: PC-70’s at WABC-TV New York and KABC-TV Los Angeles; PE-250’s at WBKB (later WLS-TV) Chicago; TK-42’s at KGO San Francisco (replaced after 1969-70 by PE-350’s) and WXYZ-TV Detroit (replaced by the mid-1970’s by TK-45A’s).

      2. Let me add a few qualifiers from that June comment. I have found from two articles – one in the April 1965 issue of Broadcasting magazine, the other in the May 1965 BM/E – that CBS actually took delivery of their first GE 4-V color film chain that spring, and that their Broadcast Center in New York (for both CBS network and WCBS-TV local) and Television City in Hollywood would receive more such units by the summer. This meant that the GE’s they had were actually of the earlier PE-24 model (likely PE-24-B; wasn’t that variant the one with the rounded-edge camera head, as seen in many a photo taken at the telecine department?); and that those were what transmitted, for example, the first airing of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” that holiday season, plus what filmed shows on the schedule were in color, and the first of the National Geographic specials. They would be in the CBS BC telecine department through the ’80’s. (And as the years went on, it showed.)

        Another individual who pushed for Paley to finally “go color” was John Schneider – who’d replaced Jim Aubrey as CBS Television Network head.

        On the local front, another station that purchased PE-24’s (three in all) were WNEW-TV in New York. As per the August 1968 BM/E, the station had those plus seven Sarkes Tarzian B&W film chains in their telecine department. Some ex-staffers who contributed to various TV/radio message boards said WNEW had RCA TK-27’s – sounds like those units (however much there were) were ordered and put into service there after 1969. WOR-TV had a mixture of TK-26’s and a new TK-27 (by 1968, all of WOR’s chains were TK-27’s – four in all). WPIX, I haven’t heard one way or another, but I suspect they had TK-27’s. While ABC network’s Union City, NJ outpost that transmitted film-based material to New York via microwave had PE-24’s, their Television Center at 7 West 66th Street would ultimately have TK-27’s (for both network and WABC-TV). NBC’s Radio City studios at Rockefeller Center seemed to have a dip in quality of filmic transmissions, as the TK-26 whose colors were bold and whose images were bright were gradually replaced with the TK-27 whose quality, in the eyes of some, was a bit darker, milkier and more washed-out.

  2. The NBC “peacock” identification bumper exhibited above, which appeared before the start of virtually every color program on the network, is the one that aired on the network from 1962 through 1970 [Mel Brandt is the NBC announcer delivering the disclaimer]. A shorter five-second version was also seen from 1969 through ’71.

    Incidentally, creator/producer Sidney Sheldon intended to film “I DREAM OF JEANNIE” in color from the beginning, but Screen Gems refused to allow him to do so. When he offered to pay the extra $400 per episode to defray the cost of filming in color, Screen Gems executive Jerry Hyams told him, “Sidney, don’t throw your money away”. Sheldon, in his autobiography ‘The Other Side Of Me”, claimed the first season was filmed in black and white not because of the potential extra cost- HE believed the studio didn’t think the series would last a full season. It did, and they finally allowed him to film two color episodes at the end of season one as a “test” to see how the show would look in color. Those were “held” until broadcast in season two, as the series “converted” to full color in the fall of 1966 [new sets, new makeup and costumes for Barbara Eden, new special effects].

  3. …and the artwork seen at the beginning of the “CAPTAIN NICE” promo, which aired towards the end of the first week of January 1967 (promoting the show’s January 9th premiere), was drawn by famed comic book artist Jack Kirby.

  4. I can remember as a kid seeing two other early versions of the ABC color logo with the same animation but different music themes. (One may have been slightly longer.) Can you find them?

    1. You can see all the early color logos of NBC, CBS & ABC here, including the 2 different music versions for ABC, with and without announcer:

      According to this site, ABC aired the first version without announcer so that its affilates which could not yet broadcast in color would not be embarrassed if there were viewers with color sets who would still be seeing the broadcast in B&W because of the affiliate’s inability to broadcast color. By 1963, ABC apparently thought it was ok to embarrass its non-color broadcasting affiliates with the announcer mentioning that the ABC broadcast was in color.

      1. And wasn’t the ABC color logo animation without announcing sometimes appear at the end of network programs?

      2. As a teenager I remember watching the very first episode of “The Jetsons” on September 23, 1962 on our families’ 21-inch Philco Black and White TV on the Philadelphia ABC affiliate, then known as WFIL-TV.

        ABC had not yet switched to their “circles” logo which was still a month away. ABC was still using the small case “a” logo. So when “The Jetsons” premiered there was no color logo intro or announcement. Later in the first and only doomed season for “The Jetsons” ABC started displaying an introductory logo with the “circles” in color with a “bed” of a short musical interlude, with no announcer. Many ABC affiliates did not carry “The Jetsons” in color due to the show having no regular sponsor, therefore no affiliate revenue, also due to their not wanting to incur additional “line charges”.

        I say “doomed” because “The Jetsons” was broadcast at 7:30 eastern/6:30 central, the same time slot as the highly rated, long-running” Walt Disney’s World of Color” over on NBC.

        ABC then began broadcasting “The Flintstones” which had premiered in 1960, in color in 1962. Ironically, both “The Jetsons” and “The Flintstones” are still broadcast on MeTV Sunday mornings.

  5. I don’t want to sound like a braggart…but I remember that as a kid, my family had one of the first color television sets in our neighborhood. I can remember being a toddler and having some of our neighbors come to the house and spend the evening watching our television set because it would be broadcast in color.

    It’s odd to look back on those days — Mom wearing a fancy dress and Dad wearing a suit and tie to sit in his favorite chair and spend the evening watching TV, and the neighbors all dressed up, too. But, that’s the way things were done back in the mid and late ’60s.

    Nowadays, I can’t think of anyone I know who doesn’t have a color set and noone gets dressed up just to watch TV. Heck, most of the time, I just wear shorts and a t-shirt (or sweat pants and a sweat shirt during the winter months).

  6. Does anyone else remember having to fiddle with the color & tint buttons to get the color just right. The the show would switch cameras and you’d have to do it all over again. Thank God for Automatic Fine Tuning control.

    1. Absolutely! You had to adjust the fine tuning for each channel, and every time you changed the channel you’d have to adjust the color saturation and tint. A lot of times, none of the cameras on a show matched each other. The trick was to find a setting where the image from each camera was acceptable, if not perfect. Baseball and football games were especially frustrating. The problem was especially noticeable when a split screen was used and you could see the yellowish grass around first base right next to the bluish grass by third base. All you could do was hope that someday they’d figure out how to fix this. I recall going to the UK in 1972 and being very impressed with the picture on PAL TV’s. The image was sharper than in the US with perfect color that didn’t change. Every camera matched perfectly and there wasn’t even a tint control on the set. By the late 1970’s, it seemed that color TV had finally been perfected and once you adjusted your set to your satisfaction, you didn’t have to do it again. Of course, now in 2021, we have HD that gives a sharp image with absolutely perfect color virtually right out of the box. Of course, that’s an oversimplification and there’s always room for improvement.

      1. Yes and you had to physically get up to change channels to, the only options being 2, 4, 5, 7 , 9 , 11 ,and 13. If they were brodcasting and you had good reception.

  7. Just happened to be watching old school terrestrial broadcast of an obscure digital channel. Surprisingly, it wasn’t an infomercial, but a broadcast of The Shirley Temple show! In Color- obviously shot on Video Cameras- had a very “live feel” amazing what they were able to do one Huge Burbank studio/set. I just couldn’t believe that the episode (House of Seven Gables) was in Color- Aired in 1960! Robert Culp before he was I-Spy- Jonathan Harris before he was Doctor Smith- and Martin Landau before Mission Impossible & Space 1999.

    Had to google it (which led me here) because I was under the assumption that the ’66 -’67 season (Star Trek’s vibrant colors) was really the start of color. Seems I was off by a decade.

    1. couple o’ yrs ago, started watching ‘bonanza’. noticed every episode in COLOR; bonanza began in 1959!
      found out they never filmed in b&w …. color from the beginning :D

    2. “Shirley Temple’s Storybook” was taped in color starting in 1960, when it moved to NBC.

      If my memory serves me correct, the show’s run as a weekly series ended in 1961, but I thought there were occasional “Storybook” specials taped in color through the ‘Sixties ( a couple a year?), until Temple became an ambassador under President Nixon.

      I think full-color tapes of all the 1960-61 episodes and subsequent specials still exist.

      Some of these episodes are on DVD.

      1. Several years back I signed up with a service that sent me 2 episodes of “The Shirley Temple Show” (as NBC renamed “Shirley Temple’s Storybook”) on DVD roughly every month or 2. I received about 8 of these DVDs until the service apparently ran out of her color shows (and never sent the ABC B&W shows) and started sending her movies instead. I received a copy of “The Secret Garden” (which I have yet to watch) before cancelling my subscription. You can see several of the DVDs that I now have (“Pippi Longstocking”/”Kim” as an example) at this link if you want them for yourself:

  8. True about Bonanza. As a result, it looked fresh and new from the beginning – unlike B and W shows, which tend to date themselves. The episodes have held up well.

    1. Lucy was, in fact, called in on the carpet at CBS in the mid fifties when she’d blabbed to the press that she was planning to do the monthly L/D Comedy Hour, and in color (according to The I Love Lucy Book). Red Skelton, on the other hand, did persuade CBS to do a handful of his shows per year in color (according to Ed Reitan’s color TV history website). Years later Lucy finally got to do a season of The Lucy Show in color, but at the last minute permission was revoked. The season that starts with a community theatre version of Cleopatra (Vivian was Marc Antony, ouch) is seen now in color but was originally the last B/W season. That part I read in an article that Lucy herself wrote for a special color TV supplement that appeared in Sunday papers, in ’64 I think.

      1. Actually The Lucy Show aired in B&W through all 3 seasons set on the East Coast. (These were the seasons that included Lucy & Viv and their kids.) CBS didn’t air The Lucy Show in color until its first Hollywood season (1965-66), but it did rerun episodes from earlier seasons in color starting in the 1966 summer rerun season.

    2. The first series shot in color–well before NBC’s first color series were broadcast–was THE CISCO KID (1950-56), though it was not seen in color until the ’60s. After beginning in black and white, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN (1954-57), THE ADVENTURES OF WILD BILL HICKOK (1955-59) and THE LONE RANGER (1955-56) also converted to color. Again, the color episodes debuted in the ’60s, though it’s possible there were stations equipped to broadcast in color that ran them earlier. Other non-NBC series shot in color included SGT. PRESTON OF THE YUKON (1955-58), MY FRIEND FLICKA (1955-56), and NORTHWEST PASSAGE ( 1958-59), among others.

  9. I remember the cost of the color sets were high. In 1965 our first set was a large screen 27 inch? On sale for $600. A entertainment center with a phono and radio (huge thing about 6 ft. Was about a grand). I remember color was so important for a while they even tried colorization of old b&w. Which was alfull and terrible color. Thankfully most people would prefer them in original b&w.

  10. we lived in Washington,dc when kennedy was assasniated. my dad was navy. in 1964 we bought a muntz color tv. we very quickly became the most popular family on the block. you could actually see the capitol building from our backyard…. military housing…. quadrant green. dad was a vodka man… and mom absolutely did not allow him do drink around all the kids who FLOODED our house every sat morning to watch color cartoons! but on sundays… the tv was his! and mine also,in a way. because… nbc broadcast afl football games in color….. cbs did not do nfl games in color…. the very reason he bought the color tv in the first place!!! so he became a buffalo bills fan…. and I became his….. remote control… beer fetcher…. “STEVE… ARE YOU LETTING HIM SIP ON YOUR BEER”…. Why…. yes, mom….. and the rabbit ear controller…. HEY, BOY… YOU GOT IT!!! NOW HIT THIS BEER BEFORE YA MUDDER FINDS OUT!!!! great days…. good times. what a GREAT time to grow up!!!!! no doubt!!!!

    1. That post of yours was a profoundly sweet look back. It produced wonderful bubbling cauldron of memories & Dad, football, short human remote controls, AFL San Diego Chargers… Great time to grow up.. Thank you for this.way back machine (elementary/Sherman) nostalgia. The memories conjurred in both a combo of smiles, stories, laughter & trears. Teas a magical time to grow up… The 60s childhood, cannot be overstated. Thanks again! (Miss my Dad… Father’s Day and his birthday always back to back and this year it’s a happy place thanks to this. Taz

    2. While NBC telecast all but a handful of their American Football League games in color during the 1965 season, CBS only televised one regular-season NFL game in color that year: The Thanksgiving game in Detroit.

      I believe CBS at the time had just one color mobile unit, which was first used in October for a space launch at Cape Canaveral, and for much of December, 1965 was sent to the Cape for the dual Gemini 7/6 launches.

      CBS, however, did televise all their 1965 NFL playoff games in color. By then, the network had a second color mobile van, and the Gemini 7/6 dual launchings had both transpired, freeing up the truck that had been sent to Cape Canaveral.

      In 1966, CBS did about half of their NFL regular-season games in color (while NBC did all of their AFL games that year in color). Even as late as 1967, a handful of NFL regional games on CBS were still in black-and-white.

  11. I cant find ANY older surviving muntz color sets ANYWHERE! I would love to see if anyone has found one from the 1960s like we had! ours lasted until 1970 or so. then it sorta died.

  12. after the muntz died around late 1970….. we got a zenith chromacolor…. that lasted til 1982!! so we got another one… that lasted until 2002!! those zeniths were like the energizer bunnies!! never a repair….. they died quickly…. but were great till they died!!

    1. My parents always bought Zenith B&W TVs; we didn’t have a color set until 1984. But they were sort of bamboozled into throwing out 2 19″ sets that both had exactly the same problem, by their repair man, who really couldn’t fix anything. The same guy convinced them to ditch a Symphonic portable stereo because of a slipping idler wheel and a decent quality RCA table radio due to “silver mica disease”. All the guy knew how to do was replace tubes and when he sold my parents a new set in 1970 with a miner focus problem, he kept swapping tubes until giving up and saying that the set would never have a decent picture and that we would just have to live with it. So much stuff got trashed in those days because of know-nothing repair guys.

  13. so I got my own zenith….. and one for my sister… years later…. I don’t know what happened to zenith between when we had ours…. and the two sets I bought afterwards…… but these two sets were…. COMPLETE GARBAGE!!! sad, really…. zenith was the LAST American manufacturer of television sets in the united states…. when QUALITY meant something….. again…. sad.

    1. I used to repair the computer monitors they built in their strike-ridden Mexico plants; some of the worst crap I’ve ever seen in my life. Underneath nice metal enclosures, the boards and wiring were cobbled together like a rats nest. We had to retrofit hundreds of them because they were making the customer’s offices smell of smoke.

  14. As far as I recall, my neighbors were the first to have a color set on the block. I remember watching “Underdog” cartoons on the new WKBS channel 48 UHF station on their round tube set, so this would have been 50 years ago, late 1965. I remember how bright and garish the colors were – kind of like seeing a comic book on a big screen. Even though 1966 was the year of the big switch to color programming, we were still going to miss out at home. In spite of my nagging, my father wanted to wait until rectangular sets became more widely available. Finally by the summer of 69, we had our own Emerson color set. It was a thrill to finally see “Star Trek”, “Lost In Space”, “Time Tunnel”, “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” in blazing color in syndication on the UHF stations. I also remember watching Iron Butterfly perform In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida on the “Red Skelton Show” in September 69 in shimmering, psychedelic color. My father remarked that color broadcasting had its bugs, such as the “bleeding” of bright reds as well as the greenish tint that occurred for darker complected actors.
    This week, I’m watching “Bonanza” on Me TV and was thrilled to see they were using the NBC peacock introduction for these episodes: “The following program is brought to you in living color on NBC.” Today’s HD sets, along with digital broadcasting and Blu-ray players, are showing these vintage color shows quite nicely.

    1. Even better, Me-TV is also airing the NBC “Snake” at the end of each “Bonanza Lost Episode” broadcast. This is the version that NBC ran at the end of its March 1989 rebroadcast (which I taped at the time) of “Peter Pan”, the December 1960 color videotape version. It runs for about 5 seconds, playing some orchestration based on NBC’s chime notes (G-E-C) while showing a cameraman seated behind an NBC color camera against a mostly-red background.

    2. It seems that the networks went out of their way in those days to not let viewers forget that their $600 investment was being put to use; a lot of shows had levels of color that were just “too much” as Debbie Harry would say. I’ve always suspected that the garish color on TV also drove the tastes for wild colors in home decorating, appliances and clothes that took over in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

    3. Mel Brant was the voice of the peacock
      “…The following program comes to you in Living Color on NBC…”

  15. Lots of shows went from B/W to color but less than a handful of shows (that I’ve found) actually went from color to black and white. “Science Fiction Theater” was in color for its first season but went to B/W for the second and final season. “Wagon Train” was an hour long and B/W for the first 6 seasons and went to color and 90 minutes for its seventh season. For the eighth season it reverted back to the one hour format and B/W.

  16. ohhhh…. how about one of my mothers favorite shows…. dark shadows…. an iconic show…. with one of the WORST production values… EVER! IN black and white until at LEAST 1968….. I will guess that’s where the old black and white equipment met its final end…. you would find…. boom microphones getting in the shot…. cameramen behind the curtains getting in the shot….. even when they finally went color…. in late 1968…. early 1969….. good times, I tellya!!!!

    1. DS was far more scary in B&W than in color with all those Sears catalog clothes and furniture. Colinwood was also, at least from the inside, the world’s most cramped “mansion” with everyone crowded around the huge fireplace in that little room. It was a fun show once you started following it, but like many soap operas, it was far too slow-moving for today’s attention spans. I’d like to see someone release a compilation of the episodes with most of the long pauses and dead time edited out.

      1. I never got in to DARK SHADOWS because of the sheer SIZE of the series. My husband watched it. He even had a t-shirt with Barnabas on it.

    2. According to Wiki & the show’s DVD collection, DARK SHADOWS started being broadcast in color w/ its Aug. 14, 1967 episode. The show from the previous Friday, Aug. 11 was taped in color but broadcast in B&W because the network wanted to start color broadcasts on Monday. I think that DS was the 1st ABC daytime program in color, but all ABC programming was in color just a few months later when the network cancelled its last B&W program, the game show EVERYBODY’S TALKING, at the end of 1967.

  17. Dark Shadows (abc 1966-71) converted to color videotaping on August 11, 1967 during which time the studio in NYC reopened after being closed for a week so the sets could be repainted for color and RCA black and white cameras were replaced by color Philips cameras. The last soap opera on abc to switch from b&w to color was General Hospital (abc 1963-present) on 10/30/67. As for Zenith, they were purchased by the Korean company Goldstar in 1995.

  18. One of the first programs to be shown regularly in color was the annual telecast of “The Wizard of Oz”, and when color TV caught on in the mid to late 1960’s, the networks would announce that “Oz” was presented in color but that the first 20 minutes will be presented in black and white. Of course, we all know that “Oz” also ends in black and white/sepia tone!

    1. A few different shows went from color back to B&W if/when they left NBC for another network. THE PRICE IS RIGHT went back to B&W when it left NBC for ABC in Sept. 1963. MISSING LINKS also made the same transition when it went to ABC in Mar. 1964. Also THE JOEY BISHOP SHOW went back to B&W in Sept. 1964 when CBS picked it up from NBC. I think that someone else here mentioned how WAGON TRAIN went to a 90-min. color version on ABC for its 7th season in 1963-64, only to switch back to B&W for its 8th & final season in 1964-65.

    2. The Joey Bishop Show. It started in black and white on NBC, changed to color in its second season, was canceled by NBC but picked up for a final season on CBS who changed it back to black and white. CBS had a very petty and vengeful corporate personality set by Bill Paley. He only grudgingly allowed a late and slow switch to color because of his hatred of David Sarnoff and RCA who beat CBS in developing color TV when RCA’s all electronic, compatible color TV system was selected by the FCC over CBS’s mechanical field sequential system.

  19. Hanna-Barbera’s “The Jetsons” was one of the first shows to air in color on the ABC network in 1962, the same year the third season of the same producers’ prime-time animated series “The Flintstones” began broadcasting in color, and changed its theme “Rise and Shine” to its newer main title “Meet The Flintstones”. Both shows were made on film by Screen Gems in Columbia color by Pathe.
    Meanwhile, Screen Gems’ “Hazel” began airing in color on NBC and sponsored by the Ford Motor Company. I loved the color version of the Columbia Torch Lady’s closing logo in blue blackground.

  20. I was one of the privileged few to see the first live broadcast of Peter Pan in 1955 under ideal conditions. My father knew the head of publicity for NBC West Coast, who got us in to see it in what looked like a movie theater on the network’s property. I was 8. We were all dressed up, as was the audience, all NBC brass with family members. We all gasped as the beautiful peacock spread its feathers in glorious color on the giant theater screen. The color was perfect throughout the show. The screen went dark during commercials. The images still leap out in my mind, sharp and vivid. And yet this was already my second viewing of Mary Martin in the role. My parents and I had seen the exact same production on stage probably not more than a year previously. The colors of the pirate costumes still blaze in my head. During intermission, my father got permission for us to sit FRONT ROW CENTER in three seats that for some reason had been vacant. Original viewers of the broadcast will remember Miss Martin talking to the audience at the end of the show, as herself, asking the audience to always keep some of that childhood innocence throughout their life. She did this in the live show as well. She then looked straight down at me, gazing up at her in rapture, and with a big smile and a sweep of her hand, spread some fairy dust on me. I remember walking soooo carefully as we came outside, going down Wilshire Blvd to our car, with my arms spread out so as to keep that precious dust from falling. These two Peter Pan viewings were the happiest of my childhood.

  21. Like many others I grew up as a kit in the 50’s and my dad took us to the store and there happened to be a program on in color. To me it was like something that dropped right out of a flying saucer. I bought the 1st color tv in 1963. Back then you scoped out tv guide to see what shows were in color for the next week. Back then there were no cell phones, computers and other distractions and color tv was a really big deal. We watched the Cubs and White Sox games live on WGN tv who started broadcasting color about 1961. I repaired consumer electronics for many years and have a collection of early color sets dating back to 1956.

  22. Starting in the early 60s, my grandparents always had a newish RCA color TV, stereo entertainment center, they got a new one every year or two. I used to have to help them move, and that damned entertainment center was horrible to move, it was about 8 feet long, heavy and fragile. I hated that monstronsity so badly that I didn’t care to watch it. During one move, by dad and an uncle hit the picture tube cup on a door frame and broke the picture tube neck off. I was REALLY glad that at the time I moving a table that was just as much of a pain in the neck to move. Before the truck was unloaded, they went to an RCA dealer and bought a new one, so we didn’t have to move the broken one into their new house.

  23. My mom and dad were looking at getting our first color TV in the early 70s, I was terrified that it would be a stereo theater. My dad assured me that it would just be a TV, he didn’t want a monstronsity any more than I did.

  24. My dad was an electronics rep, so our home always had the most up to date color TV’s. He really was a tint fanatic-the tint on any show had to be just so or there would be a tint flyin’ fracas. He’d adjust and diddle around with intensity, brightness, volume, reception via antenna, and so on but what really mattered was the hue on a face (“too blue-ish, isn’t it just a bit too blue-ish?”), the brazen color of hot dog and beer ads, the poor red values on cars, it was all about that darn tint. My poor mother had to assist him in his Mission To Find The Holy Grail Of Perfect Tint when asked to tweak the control while he inspected the screen close up for tint-worthiness. #tintskillz

  25. No mention of THE CISCO KID television series here, which was the FIRST television series to be filmed in color and broadcast as such, although only .5% of U.S. households had a color television…

  26. In the early 1960s when we still had a B & W set, an announcer pulled a prank.
    He said “This show is brought to you in living black and white by …”. As a kid I
    thought it was funny but not a big deal. Apparently he got in a lot of trouble. I
    had hoped to find out who he was, and maybe a clip of it. → No such luck.

    Does anyone else remember this incident?.

    I can’t find anything about it using Google.

  27. First color set I owned was a Hitachi 19″ in 1977 where my soon to be wife bought a identical set from the same dealer because we loved it so much. I remember watching “color” programming for hours because it was so new and lifelike for me. The first TV I remember watching was my parent’s DuMont in the early 50’s. What a time!

  28. I remember seeing a commercial in green and yellow hues over our black and white TV set in Boston during the 1969 lunar landing. I understand it was a test broadcast. Any further info?

  29. Blue Light Was Then In Color,Ripcord B&W Season 1,Season 2 In Color.Wagon Train 4 Seasons 1 Hour B&W,Color Season 5 1 Hour,B&W Season 6 1 Hour,Color Season 7 90 Minute,B&W Season 8 1 Hour,
    The Joey Bishop Show B&W And Color Season 1,Color Seasons 2 And 3,B&W Final Season.

  30. One of the first color TV shows I saw was STAR TREK. I was 11-12 at the time, and when my parents were bowling, I would sneak into the bar area and watch it. All those colors! The uniform colors, the door colors, and yes, even the red colored hand railings on the bridge! not to mention, those voluptuous women in colorful (and skimpy) costumes!

  31. The 1950’s TV series “Adventures of Superman” began Filming color episodes in late 1954 with the first color episode starting with season 3, which first aired on April 23rd 1955. Though produced in color, I haven’t been able to confirm that it actually aired in color for those first airings, it was an early ‘first-run broadcast syndication’ program with no major network behind it, though it likely did air in color at a few stations.

  32. “The Ed Sullivan Show” didn’t convert to color until the third week of its 18th season, while the pilot for “Hogan’s Heroes” was in B&W, as was the first season for both “Lost In Space” and “The Wild Wild West” as well as Steve Lawrence’s variety series, which lasted only one season (and was the last variety series to be taped in B&W.). Interestingly, some public television series (e.g. “Mister Rogers Neighborhood”) continued to air in B&W until 1969.

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