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Could You Afford A Color TV in the 1950′s?

(Youtube)

Hard to believe in this age of large, flat screen, high definition TV sets, some even with 3-D, there was a time when most shows were telecast in black and white.  Color TV sets were rare in the 50’s and early 60’ because there were so few TV shows broadcast in color anyway. 

 What was the first show broadcast in color?  There were a few experimental broadcasts in color, but the Colgate Comedy Hour on NBC on November 22nd, 1953 was the first show in color followed a little over a month later by the Tournament of Rose Parade on January 1st, 1954.  It was also the first coast to coast color broadcast. 

Less than two months later the first Westinghouse color TV set went on sale in New York City at a price of $1,295 dollars.  In today’s dollars that would probably work out to be in the range of more than 10-thousand dollars. 

There were some syndicated shows that were filmed in color in the 50’s, but NBC’s “Bonanza” was the first weekly show to be televised in color in 1959.

NBC had a big reason for pushing color TV.  It’s parent company was RCA and they wanted to sell color TV sets.  The other networks, CBS and ABC were slow to jump on the color TV bandwagon because they didn’t want to promote NBC’s product.  Matter of fact, CBS didn’t do any color broadcasts in the early 60’s even though one of their most successful shows – The Lucy Show was filmed in color, but CBS showed it in black and white. 

In 1964, only 3 percent of American households had a color TV set.  Finally in 1972, more color TV sets were being sold than black and white.

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