Welcome to Kris Trexler's website about the early days of color television broadcasting in the 1950's and 60's. As a youth, my fascination with television production reached a fever pitch after touring a local television station in my hometown in Kansas. I was overwhelmed by the process of creating a TV show! From the cameraman and his huge color TV camera to the engineers in Master Control who operated the complex videotape recorders, the idea of being involved in TV production was too seductive to ignore. From that day in 1964 my fate was sealed, and within a few years I began a career in television that continues today. As a video and film editor I've worked on countless hours of network TV programming, from "All in the Family" in the 1970's to ABC's "According to Jim" nearly 30 years later. I worked on music videos in the early days of MTV, commercials, Oscarcasts, and won a couple of Emmy awards along the way. But memories of the TV station tour as a young boy are never far from my thoughts.

When colorcasting began in 1954, there were few color programs and the receivers were prohibitively expensive for most American families. A color TV set in the 1950's was extremely rare. We didn't own a color TV until I bought one for our family in 1966. That RCA table model set was the first purchase I made on my first job at 16 years of age. I recall the frustration of watching the majestic NBC peacock on our family's Magnavox black and white TV in the 1950's. The 10 second animated bird was accompanied by soaring music while the announcer proclaimed "The following program is brought to you in Living Color on NBC!" RCA-owned NBC was the only network with regular color programming in the 1950's, and the peacock served as a mini-advertisement to remind the majority of Americans watching black and white TV's that they were missing something very special. The solution: buy a new RCA COLOR TV to watch those NBC COLOR shows as they were meant to be seen!

Many Saturday mornings I would race my bike to a nearby department store, arriving just in time to see the peacock in Living Color at the beginning of NBC's "The Howdy Doody Show." The rich, beautiful color was simply overwhelming! The improvement of COLOR over drab black and white TV was even more apparent than today's high definition television when compared to standard definition broadcasts. Even the most casual observer couldn't helped but be impressed by the lifelike color images we take for granted today. The advent of color television was truly a revolution!


Browse the links below to explore the early days of color TV in America. Read about the dramatic struggle between two industry leaders to adopt a color broadcasting standard in the 1950's. View the snapshots I took on the tour of KARD-TV in 1964 and you'll see how I got the "TV Bug." See my antique RCA TK-41 color television camera, exactly the same model used on NBC's earlycolorcasts, and take a tour of the TV station where my actual camera was in service during the 1960's. See photos of early color cameras at work in TV studios. Marvel at a video of the original animated NBC peacock in Living Color. Watch a 1958 excerpt of one of the very first color videotapes. And much more. Enjoy your visit!
RCA TK-40/41: the first color television camera (1954)
RCA CT-100: the first color television set (1954)

See videos of the original NBC peacocks and ABC and CBS color presentation logos

See photos from my boyhood tour of KARD-TV in 1964

See photos of NBC Color City Studios in Burbank, California in 1955

See photos of my TK- 41 color television camera

Take a tour of KSTP-TV in 1962 and see my TK-41 camera in service when it was new

See an RCA 2" Color Television Tape Recorder

Learn more about the Color Television Revolution

See a video of one of NBC's FIRST shows recorded on videotape in "Living Color" in 1958

See excerpts of the oldest surviving black and white Video Tape - "The Edsel Show" - October 1957

The free Quicktime 6 (or later) Player must be installed on your computer to view videos


Want to read more about early color television? Check out these links:

Read NPR's coverage of color TV's 50th anniversary

visit Ed Reitan's website - a very informative site about early color TV

visit Chuck Pharis's site to see his collection of antique TV cameras and other early broadcast equipment

visit Barry Mishkind's website to see the RCA Television Equipment Archive

visit Steve Dichter's CT-100 website


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