Color Television

Color television is part of the history of television, the technology of television and practices associated with television's transmission of moving images in color video.

In its most basic form, a color broadcast can be created by broadcasting three monochrome images, one each in the three colors of red, green and blue (RGB). When displayed together or in rapid succession, these images will blend together to produce a full color image as seen by the viewer.

One of the great technical challenges of introducing color broadcast television was the desire to conserve bandwidth, potentially three times that of the existing black-and-white (B&W) standards, and not use an excessive amount of radio spectrum. In the United States, after considerable research, the National Television Systems Committee approved an all-electronic system developed by RCA which encoded the color information separately from the brightness information and greatly reduced the resolution of the color information in order to conserve bandwidth. The brightness image remained compatible with existing B&W television sets at slightly reduced resolution, while color televisions could decode the extra information in the signal and produce a limited-resolution color display. The higher resolution B&W and lower resolution color images combine in the eye to produce a seemingly high-resolution color image. The NTSC standard represented a major technical achievement.

Although introduced in the U.S. in 1953, only a few years after black-and-white televisions had been standardized there, high prices and lack of broadcast material greatly slowed its acceptance in the marketplace. Although the first national colorcast (the 1954 Tournament of Roses Parade) occurred on January 1, 1954, it was not until the late 1960s that color sets started selling in large numbers, due in some part to the color transition of 1965 in which over half of all network prime-time programming would be broadcast in color that fall, and the introduction of GE's Porta-Color set in the Spring of 1966 which would bring the first all-color primetime season beginning that fall.

By the late 1960s and early 1970s though, color sets had become standard, and the completion of total colorcasting was achieved when the last of the daytime programs converted to color and joined with primetime in the first all-color season in 1972.

Color broadcasting in Europe was not standardized on the PAL format until the 1960s, and broadcasts did not start until 1967. By this point many of the technical problems in the early sets had been worked out, and the spread of color sets in Europe was fairly rapid.

By the mid-1970s, the only stations broadcasting in black-and-white were a few high-numbered UHF stations in small markets, and a handful of low-power repeater stations in even smaller markets such as vacation spots. By 1979, even the last of these had converted to color and by the early 1980s B&W sets had been pushed into niche markets, notably low-power uses, small portable sets, or use as video monitor screens in lower-cost consumer equipment, in the television production and post-production industry.

Read more about Color Television:  Development, Color Standards

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