Steve's Vintage Color TV Page

That's me with my 1954 RCA Victor CT-100 color receiver. RCA's first consumer color set.

This site features my 1954 RCA Victor CT-100 color receiver & 1956-57 RCA Victor CTC-5 "Wingate" model color TV. And a look back at color tv in the mid 1950's.


Contents:

SITE INTRODUCTION

THE CT-100 SECTION: FACTS & PHOTOS, INCLUDING NEWSPAPER ADS AND NETWORK COLOR LOGOS FROM THE ERA.

VIEW OFF SCREEN PHOTOS INCLUDING NBC'S 50th COLOR TELECAST OF THE 2004 ROSE PARADE AS SEEN ON MY CT-100. PLUS OTHER MANUFACTURER'S 15" 1954 COLOR TV'S FROM THE EARLY TELEVISION FOUNDATION MUSEUM. MY THANKS TO MUSEUM FOUNDER STEVE McVOY.

A BRIEF NOD TO 50's ERA 19" COLOR RECEIVERS WITH PHOTOS.

1955 TV GUIDE« ARTICLE ON TV
STATION COLOR LOGOS

THE 21" COLOR TV SECTION:
FEATURING MY CTC-5 RCA 21" "WINGATE" MODEL.

A SHORT EXPLANATION OF TV MANUFACTURER'S MAJOR PUSH TO MARKET AND SELL "LARGE SCREEN'' COLOR TV'S IN THE 1956-57 PERIOD. WITH PHOTOS INCLUDING THE RARE 1957 WESTINGHOUSE 22" RECTANGULAR TUBE COLOR RECEIVER.

THE 1956-57 RCA VICTOR CTC-5 21" COLOR
RECEIVER BROCHURE.
NETWORK COLOR LOGOS FROM THIS PERIOD. RCA DEALER PROMOTION ITEMS AND OTHER GOOD STUFF.

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I DO NOT RESPOND TO INQUIRES ABOUT BLACK & WHITE TELEVISION!
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COMMENTS, QUESTIONS ON 50's ERA COLOR TELEVISION ONLY!

PLEASE CONTACT ME AT: Stevetek@webtv.net
Copyrightę 2017 Steve D.



 



A short introduction to the site:

Color television in the United States has a most interesting history. A Google search of "color tv history" will provide a wonderful journey into this subject. Several systems were proposed and one, the incompatible CBS field sequential system, an electro-mechanical system that employed a tri-color spinning wheel in front of the viewing screen was actually in use, for a short time in 1951, before proving impractical. The ultimate winner in this contentious race to bring practical color television to the American home was the RCA/NTSC compatible color system. Compatible meaning that existing b&w receivers could also receive color broadcasts in b&w. The official F.C.C. blessing was given on Dec. 17, 1953. Although, the RCA owned NBC-TV network experimentally telecast several shows in compatible color prior to that date.
In early 1954 production of consumer color receivers began. This site will focus on that shakey start and the industries vain attempt to market color television, in the mid 1950's, to a viewing public already awash and pretty satisfied with their black & white tv's.


Starting in early 1954 NTSC 15" color receivers were first offered for sale to the public. Westinghouse in Feb. '54, $1200. And RCA Victor's CT-100 in April, 1954, $1000. Other companies soon followed with very limited pilot runs or prototype demonstration units. Sales were dismally low. Few color programs were available.



 

My RCA Victor CT-100 (1954) Stats:

"The Merrill"
Chassis: # B8002407
Cabinet: # 917
Picture tube: 15GP22 # LB 3066
Tube count: 37
Weight: 175 lbs.

 

RCA CT-100 User's manual

Instructions for operating color controls on your "new" RCA color TV: http://antiqueradio.org/art/RCACT-100OwnerManualInstruct1.jpg. (Courtesy: Phil Nelson)

 

Publicty photo of CT-100 production line, RCA's first consumer color receiver

RCA technician Homer Edward Sylvester, kneeling foreground, testing (my CT-100?) before shipping from the RCA Bloomington, Ind. plant. Production begins March 25, 1954. Total production: 5000 (suggested) Probably less. Mr. Sylvester, who passed away in 1993, was identified by family members viewing my site.

 

End of the line......

Completed, 175 lb; CT-100 is removed from the production line and prepared for shipping to distributors. (Photo courtesy: Dave Arland)

 

Dealer receives RCA CT-100, Apr. 27, 1954

Haig Varian (L) of Don Ray TV in North Hollywood, Ca. receives certificate announcing delivery of 1st CT-100 from RCA distributor rep. D.E. Starkweather of the Leo J. Meyberg Co.

 

RCA CT-100 Certificate

"World's First Order for RCA Victor Compatible Color Television" as seen in previous photo.

 

Los Angeles Times CT-100 ad, May 1954


Major L.A. dept. store offers CT-100 for $1000.00

 

NBC "color" chimes

A few viewers were lucky enough to view this logo in compatible color as NBC telecast the Rose Parade in color for the 1st time on Jan. 1, 1954. RCA model 5 prototype color receivers were employed at special screenings. (scroll down for Model 5 photo). The CT-100 wouldn't be available for several months.

 

CT-100 off screen picture

NBC's 50th anniversary color telecast of the Rose Parade as seen on my 1954 RCA CT-100.
Parade hosts: Al Roker & Shauna Robinson

 

CT-100 off screen picture: 2004 Rose Parade

NBC's 50th color telecast. the Rose Queen & her court

 

CT-100 off screen picture: 2004 Rose Parade

NBC's 50th color telecast featuring one of many floats.

 

Early Television Convention, held annually, at the ETF Museum, Columbus, Oh.


Yours Truly, attending the ETF Convention, leaning on an RCA "Model 5" color receiver. Prototype for the CT-100. 200 of this still operating set were produced in 1953 for viewing the 1st network color telecast of the Rose Parade 1-1-54. Also pictured is the 1954 Westinghouse production model H-840CK 15" color set. This example still produces a beautiful color picture (see photo below). For photos of the 2011 and previous years conventions check out the Early Television Foundation website: http://www.earlytelevision.org

Photo courtesy: Steve Kissinger

 

First NTSC color sets still dazzle viewers after more then 50 years

Production models: RCA Victor CT-100 and Westinghouse H- 840CK (see ad below)
15" receivers. Offered to the public in early 1954. Photo taken at ETF convention shows working models displaying "The Wizard of Oz".
Photo courtesy: Phil Dudley

 

Westinghouse model H- 840CK color tv ad

This full page Life Magazine color ad for Westinghouse appeared early in 1954. While several manufactuers offered color sets (see below), Westinghouse was RCA's only "major" color tv competitor, first offering color sets 2 months prior to RCA's CT-100. Aprox. 500 produced using the RCA 15GP22 picture tube. Sales were nearly non-existent.

 

Additional 1954 era 15" COLOR RECEIVERS

Seen displayed at the ETF: Sparton 16
A211 & General Electric 15CL100 15" color receivers. In addition to those previously mentioned. Several other companies also offered, for sale, in very limited quantities, or produced demonstration prototype color receivers in 1954. Among these were Emerson, CBS-Columbia, Sears, Hoffman, Admiral, Arvin & Motorola. Little color programing, small viewing screens, very high prices, fussy controls and complex chassis made for poor public response.

 

50's ERA 19" COLOR RECEIVERS

For a brief period in mid-late 1954 and sold well into 1955, several manufacturers, including Motorola, CBS-Columbia, Capehart, Raytheon, Westinghouse & Hoffman produced 19" color receivers. CBS-Columbia, Motorola 19" models pictured below. These sets provided a larger viewing area and hopefully would satisfy the public demand for large screen color tv. 21" color tubes became available shortly there-after, and would become the industry standard for many years.

 

1954 19" CBS-Columbia full door color console.
Retail price in 1954: $1100.00

 

Motorola 19" color model 19CT1 $895.00

Motorola produced and marketed, by far, the largest selection of 19" color models in the 1954-55 period. While RCA had a 19" color tube far along in development, the CBS developed 19VP22 picture tube was employed in all 19" sets.

 


TV Guide« article 1955

 

Early color at local stations.....

Pictured above is a TV Guide« article from Dec. 1955. Along with the NBC and CBS television networks, several local TV broadcasters took the plunge into color. These were generally large, major market, network affliates with at least one local Los Angeles independent station KTLA-TV. Most, at first, color telecast using simple I.D. color slides or a combination of color slide and color film telecasts via a 16mm color film chain from their telecine depts. A very few also provided live color via in studio color cameras and associated control, monitoring and transmitting equipment. No matter which color equipment was used, this was a very expensive investment considering the miniscule percentage of consumer color receivers in their viewing area.

 


The RCA Victor CTC-5 Section

Including a salute to 1956/57. Color tv manufacturer's major marketing push in the 1950's.

 

My RCA CTC-5 "Wingate" Deluxe series set


Model 21CD-7999. Solid Maple cabinet.
With original owner's manual and dealer hang tag

 

CTC-5 "Wingate" doors open

My recently restored "Wingate" 21" full door console. Set features three speaker "panoramic sound."

 

RCA CTC-5 "Deluxe" operating manual

This is the original instruction booklet for my CTC-5 color set.

 

RCA CTC-5 "Deluxe" series operating manual

Pages shown: Adjusting the color & hue controls

 

CTC-5 dealer hang tag

Small hang tag booklet was attached to each new CTC-5. It contained consumer information at a glance for the potential customer.

 

Closeup of CTC-5 Hang Tag

 

Mid '50's Color TV, some comments....

Following the introduction of the 21" picture tube by RCA in late 1954, 19" color receiver production was soon halted. Sales of 21" color tv's was expected to rise dramatically. This did not occur. RCA, with little success, expanded their model line up with the CTC-4 series into mid 1956. Other companies also offered 21" models, some using, under license, the RCA chassis. One last major color tv marketing campaign, was undertaken in mid 1956, mainly by RCA with their 11 model CTC-5 series. Several manufacturers had dropped out of color tv production entirely. Continuing to produce sets, along with RCA*, but with fewer models. Admiral* (5 models), Motorola (2 models), Hoffman* (4 models), Philco (3 models), Sylvania (2 models), General Electric (3 models) and a few others hung in there with limited introduction in mid 1956 of new 21" color models for the 1956/57 model year. The number of models indicated reflects cabinet styles, but does not reflect all available cabinet finishes or UHF optional equipped receivers. Which would increase consumer choice.
This 2 year period was RCA's and other manufacturer's biggest advertising push, to date, to market color sets to the public. By 1958 RCA was by in large the sole remaining manufacturer of color tv's, and would remain so for almost three years. Technically, color receivers were providing better quality pictures, easier tuning and simplified chassis. And even though prices had come down, they were still out of range for the average consumer. A recession in 1958 didn't help. Also fewer & fewer expensive color programs were being produced. And a nagging perception that color sets were still unreliable and hard to operate, kept buyers away. Retailers & discount stores were hard pressed to sell left over models even with heavy discounts. Some still unsold from the 1955 model year. Companies such as Hoffman*, Emerson, Capehart, Admiral*, Philco, Westinghouse* Motorola and RCA* had warehouses filled with unsold color receivers.
In late 1960, other manufacturers re-started production and color tv slowly gained market share.
Let's return to color tv's more optimistic outlook of 1956-57.

*pictured



 

Some mid 50's color tv's..........

Extremely rare, today. A 1956/57 Westinghouse 22" color receiver with optional stand. This was the only production set to use a rectangular color picture tube, developed by Westinghouse, in the 1950's. Shown: Table model 22T156 in Limed-Oak. From a Dec. '56 ad. In 2009 two of this model surfaced. One of these sets has been fully restored. See below.

 

1956-57 Westinghouse color receiver

Westinghouse 22" rectangular screen color set was restored for a private collector by vintage TV collector/restorer Steve Kissinger in late 2009.

 

1957 Admiral 21" color receiver, with Admiral designed chassis.

Highly stylized Admiral "Patrician" Lo-Boy console model, $799.00. Admiiral offered 5 color models in various wood finishes.

 

This special Color Television issue was published by Radio & Television News in 1957. Note the many companies manufacturing color sets. As mentioned above, it was short lived.

 

The CTC-5 section continues.......


 

RCA Victor exhibit

CTC-5 color receivers, and other RCA Victor products displayed at the RCA Exhibition Hall, New York City, 1956-57

 

Example of RCA Victor's national color tv advertising campaign.

"Aldrich" Special series CTC-5 model color receiver. "Tuning so simple a child can do it." RCA ad emphasizes easy tuning and compatibility.

 

RCA CTC-5 advertisment


Glamorous ad from July 1956 introduces the full line of CTC-5's. This was the start of RCA Victor's vigorous and expensive sales campagn to sell color tv to the public. Sales never met expections. eleven models, two chassis, in three series. Priced from $495 to $895.00. in a variety of wood types and finishes as described in the following panels:


 

RCA CTC-5 Brochure

Highlights and features of the CTC-5 models.
Entry level "Aldrich" Special series shown: $495.00

 

RCA CTC-5 Brochure

Pictured: The CTC-5 midline Super series models. The "Whitby" Deluxe series lower right.

 

RCA CTC-5 Brochure

Pictured: The high end Deluxe series models.
Top of the line "Wingate" lower right $850.00

 


1950's NETWORK COLOR LOGOS

 

NBC Peacock replaces the color chimes

This still image peacock premiered in Sept. 1956, and was NBC's first use of the logo. RCA was NBC's parent company at the time.

 

NBC Peacock without text

Your new RCA CTC-5, or other very expensive color receiver, would have also displayed this dazzling still image at the start of NBC's color telecasts. In 1956 that was eye popping. An animated peacock would appear in 1957. To view a history of the NBC Peacock go to: http://www.Big13.com/NBC%20Peacock/NBCPeacock1.htm

 

Early CBS color logo

The famous CBS eye logo was given a compatible color pupil in the mid 50's.

 

CBS color logo

CBS telecast this updated "bloodshot" eye logo for their late 50's and early 60's color broadcasts. As CBS went to a full color schedule in the mid '60's, an animated CBS color logo preceded color broadcasts. Limited ABC color broadcasts began in 1962.

Logo courtesy: Ed Reitan

 

CBS color studio (1954)

Yet another CBS color logo can be seen on an RCA TK-40 color camera. The white lettering says "CBS Television Color." These logos were used only on the cameras.

 

Dealer & NBC promotion items

In the 50's many RCA dealers offered givaways to perspective color tv buyers. This "Peter Pan" coloring book kept kids busy while parents pondered purchase.

 

Dealer promotion item

This NBC "peacock" lighter was a very popular giveaway in the "smokey" '50's

 

Another "smokey" '50's item

Local RCA Victor dealer promotion. "Big Color TV" ashtray. A Skokie resident pointed out that the "Oacton" St, address should be "Oakton" St. Someone goofed.

 

Dealer promotion item

"Peacock" clock. probably not a giveaway, but displayed on dealer's wall.

 

Earlier dealer clock

Clock promotes RCA 21" Big Color Television.

Photo courtesy: Andrew Green collection

 

RCA dealer promotion item

Poetic color tv coffee mug.

 

NBC "Pennant Girl"

From NBC "Chimes" magazine July, 1954. Perky model shows off first NBC color logo on a pennant (see below) and tee-shirt. These, for sale, items promoted NBC's new color broadcasting service.

 

NBC promotion item

NBC Radio City souvenir pennant 1954-56.

 

RCA TK-40A color camera

And finally...Your's truly behind this 1954 technical marvel. This example was originally used by CBS-TV for their live color telecasts from Hollywood's TV City studios. Both NBC and CBS utilized these cameras. I used to heft these weighty beasts early in my broadcast career at KTLA-TV in Los Angeles. Photo taken at a fellow collectors home.

 


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