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Inventors Color Television History
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The Development of Color Television
A German patent in 1904 contained the earliest recorded proposal for a color television system. In 1925, Zworykin filed a patent disclosure for an all-electronic colour television system. Both of these systems were not successful, however, they were the first for color television. A successful color television system began commercial broadcasting, first authorized by the FCC on December 17, 1953 based on a system designed by RCA. 

"Between 1946 and 1950 the research staff of RCA Laboratories invented the world’s first electronic, monochrome compatible, color television system." - From IEEE Milestone Plaque.

In 1940, prior to RCA, CBS researchers led by Peter Goldmark invented a mechanical  color television system based on the 1928 designs of John Logie Baird. The FCC authorized CBS's color television technology as the national standard in October of 1950, despite the fact that the system was bulky, flickered, and was not compatible with earlier black and white sets. RCA sued to stop the public broadcasting of CBS based systems. CBS had begun color broadcasting on five East Coast stations in June of 1951. However, at that time 10.5 million black and white televisions (half RCA sets) had been sold to the public and very few color sets. Color television production was halted during the Korean war, with that and the lawsuits, and the sluggish sales, the CBS system failed.

Those factors provided RCA with the time to design a better color television, which they based on the 1947 patent application of Alfred Schroeder, for a shadow mask CRT. Their system passed FCC approval in late 1953 and sales of RCA color televisions began in 1954.

By 1949, monochrome television had become a commercial success, 10 million sets had been sold, and programs were available to the general public. A change to color television would only be licensed if the color broadcast signal could also be received as a monochrome signal on these sets.

The introduction of color televisioning using the CBS Field Sequential Color System had been a commercial failure in 1951, and the intervention of the Korean War, and prohibition on production of color television sets, let CBS gracefully withdraw.

History of Early Color Television
Color Television System Development - Colorcasting Development - Color Television Receiver Development

Monochrome-Compatible, Electronic Color Television, 1946-1953
In 1946, then, RCA committed to developing an all-electronic system designed to the same reception standards enjoyed on monochrome sets.

The Story of Color Television
The premier of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color in September, 1961, was a turning point, persuading consumers to go out and purchase color televisions.

Related Innovations

©Mary Bellis

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