Looking for something else, I discovered that TODAY is the 60th anniversary of the first U.S. color telecast. “On June 25, 1951, with 12 million TV sets in existence, of which only two dozen could receive CBS color, CBS made history by presenting an hour long color TV program hosted by Ed Sullivan and Arthur Godfrey with 16 stars that performed song, dance and comedy routines.”
As this article notes, “Earlier attempts to create marketable color broadcasts had been hampered by the FCC’s insistence that any color signal be readable by existing black and white sets as well. Even though the CBS color transmission system was not compatible with most existing televisions, the FCC approved it as the U.S. standard in 1950…
“Unfortunately, the color television sets that were required to view the programs did not sell very well. In 1953, the FCC reversed their decision to use CBS’s design as the national standard in favor of an RCA design that was compatible with existing TV sets.”
Like most software/hardware problems of today, there weren’t more color TVs sold in part because there weren’t enough color programming, and vice versa. But when NBC took the lead in color broadcasting, due in no small part to its relationship with RCA, which could build color TVs, color became inevitable, slowly at first.
Jan 1964 – 1,620,000
Jan 1965 – 2,860,000
Jan 1966 – 5,220,000
Jan 1967 – 9,510,000
Jan 1968 -14,130,000 Roughly 25% of US households
Jan 1969 -19,200,000 Roughly 33%
Apr 1969 -20,560,000
Oct 1970 -26,200,000
Jul 1971 -29,700,000 Roughly 48%
The pace quickened when ABC and CBS went to full color for its 1966 fall schedule. I remember well the teases:
Of course, early on, I saw those “color” logos in black and white.