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Color TV Introduced

The First Color Television Programs Aired in 1951


A woman sitting next to the largest TV and holding the smallest available in 1951.

A woman holds the smallest working television on show at the 18th National Radio and Television Exhibition at Earl's Court, London, which has a tube measuring one inch. Beside her is the largest direct-viewing television set on show. (August 28, 1951)

(Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
On June 25, 1951, CBS broadcast the very first commercial color TV program. Unfortunately, nearly no one could watch it on their black-and-white televisions.

The First Color Shows

This first color program was a variety show simply called, "Premiere." The show featured such celebrities as Ed Sullivan, Garry Moore, Faye Emerson, Arthur Godfrey, Sam Levenson, Robert Alda, and Isabel Bigley -- many of whom hosted their own shows in the 1950s.

"Premiere" aired from 4:35 to 5:34 p.m. but only reached four cities: Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Although the colors were not quite true to life, the first program was a success.

Two days later, on June 27, 1951, CBS began airing the first regularly-scheduled color television series, "The World Is Yours!" with Ivan T. Sanderson. Sanderson was a Scottish naturalist who had spent most of his life traveling the world and collecting animals; thus the program was about Sanderson discussing artifacts and animals from his travels. "The World Is Yours!" aired on weeknights from 4:30 to 5:00 p.m.

On August 11, 1951, a month and a half after "The World Is Yours!" made its debut, CBS aired the first baseball game in color. The game was between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Boston Braves at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York.

Color TVs

Despite these early successes with color programming, the adoption to color television was a slow one. It wasn't until the 1960s that the public began buying color TVs in earnest and in the 1970s the American public finally started purchasing more color TV sets than black-and-white ones. However, sales of new black-and-white TV sets lingered on even into the 1980s.

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