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Tuning in to Television

January 30, 2002

Almanac Transcript

Tuning in to television this week on the Oklahoma Audio Almanac.

Hello, I’m Steven Knoche Kite.

By the early 1960s television was a familiar phenomenon across much of Oklahoma. The magic of watching shapes and figures move across a glass screen in your living room had lost much of its initial charm and people accepted it as a common occurrence. Color television, however, was not common at all, and people swarmed around color sets to watch their favorite shows and stars broadcast in ultra bright techno-chrome. Scientists were working on color broadcasts before World War II, but it was not until 1951 that the first commercial color broadcast took place and not until 1954 that the first nationwide color broadcast, the Tournament of Roses parade, occurred.

The considerable cost of color technology prevented for a number of years the networks switching over to an all color format. Taking even longer was the public’s acceptance of color television. Many people were reluctant to hand over the large sums of cash for color sets when their black and white's at home were working perfectly.

There appeared briefly on the market gadgets claiming to turn your black and white set into a color model. Attempting to simulate sky and grass, one such device was a plastic film colored blue on the top and green on the bottom attached to the tv screen via static cling. Needless to say such attempts at replicating color technology were short lived.

Early day color televisions were not cheap. In this week of 1965 Oklahoma City and Tulsa advertisements for color television sets featured the following prices. A nineteen inch color console television would cost the 1965 couch potato $525.00. According to local economic expert Josh McKim, that would be the equivalent of $1521.00 today. A 25-inch color television with am/fm radio cost $875.00 in 1965, the equivalent of almost $2000.00 today. People in 1965 were laying out serious cash for color technology and they demanded, oddly enough, more color shows on television. Networks obliged and the number of television programs broadcast in color grew each year.

Still in this week of 1965 television schedules from around the state exclaimed in bold letters the words and phrases “color”, “in bold color” ,“in living color” or in one case “in the wonderful world of color,” beside those programs now broadcasting in the new format.

The Sooner state goes poly-chromatic this week on the Almanac.

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