History and Timeline of the Color Television

Black and No More: History and Timeline of the Color Television

Color television implements a technology for the transmission of colored images. The integrated use of the three black and white images within the three primary colors has redefined entertainment the world over. The timeline and history of color television are as interesting as the technology itself.
The technology that drives a color television differs mainly with respect to the integration of red, green, and blue dots to produce one color. The challenges of color broadcasting includes a reduced bandwidth and deriving the best out of available radio-spectrum. This technical achievement resulted in a reduced color resolution that relied on the backward compatibility of color signals transmitted. They replaced black and white televisions at different times, in different countries. The timeline basically spans across the 1920s to the 1980s!

The product took time to be standardized amidst high prices and lack of resources. Color broadcasting initially battled a number of technical problems. Nevertheless, the success story is much the result of niche markets, low-power usage, and periodical upgradation. The field-sequential mechanical system for color was empowered by a disc of red, blue, and green filters, synchronization via another disc in proximity to the cathode ray tube, dichroic mirrors, separate lenses and scanning tubes, and electronic manipulation. The journey from predetermined Monday through Saturday programs for the TV has today culminated in a viewership-based commercial broadcast that has restructured the niche market and sales.


England and the US

The first color receiver was exhibited in England, by Baird, in 1939. However, the commercialization of subsequent improvisations took place in the US. In the United States of America, the first ever color television exhibit was that of a product mechanically scanned. In 1929, Bell Laboratories displayed the product that was empowered by photoelectric cells, glow tubes, amplifiers, and color filters. The idea was to superimpose the primary-color images for one-color image. Later, in 1940, the first ever electronically scanned television was demonstrated by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). CBS took the challenge a step further and used film for color resolution in the same year, enhancing American TV.

Cuba and Mexico

Taking the cue from the commercial success of the color TV in the US, Cuba followed in the race towards quality broadcasting. The trial and error method applied here too, but soon the public made the technological wonder a part of their daily lives. In Cuba, color transmissions from dedicated broadcasting stations witnessed a rise and ebb amidst the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Guillermo González Camarena of Mexico invented a transmission system to support the color TV in 1942. He capitalized on the versatility of a synchronized wheel of color filters and the adaptability of the monochrome television.

Europe and Canada

Color television came of age in Canada in 1966. The European sojourn kick started a little later in the 1950s. Its development in Europe was initially subject to nationalistic bias and conflicting technical standards. What started in 1956 as an experiment with monochrome transmissions via higher bandwidth, culminated with commercial success in 1967-68. The Europeans experimented with the German phase alternating line technology in 1963, SECAM operations and variations of UHF and VHF color programs.

Asia and Africa

The color TV entered the Alaska and Hawaiian markets in 1959 and 1960 respectively. Japan marketed a NTSC variation called NTSC-J in 1960. While Australia enjoyed the commercial success of color TVs for the first time in 1967, Hong Kong markets flaunted the product in 1970. New Zealand first capitalized on this invention in 1973, Indonesia in 1978, and India and much of the sub-continent, not until 1982. In Africa, the first TV set hit the markets in 1973, with the PAL technology.