Watch this TV channel switch from black and white to color broadcasting in 1967

Originally published at: Watch this TV channel switch from black and white to color broadcasting in 1967 | Boing Boing


I used to as a child look behind the TV set to see if there were little people in the box talking to me. Totally normal if you ask me.


It’s just like The Wizard of Oz!. Except, you know, if you removed the magic and replaced Judy Garland with some dude whose hobby is cleaning slide rules


What? They had a black-and-white set?

(Yeah. I know.)


What a coincidence - my hobby is cleaning slide rules, too.




If they went color and no one had a color TV did they really go color?


Apparently it was common to paint hings in various weird colors for black-and-white recording, e.g. hospital green for things fhat were meant to read as white, or Hershey syrup for blood in Psycho. Plus, early color programming ttended to really use colors, so you felt like you were getfing your money’s worth. When Lost in Space went color, viewers suddenly realised why Dr Smith had been getting all those migraines.


I was hoping he would say “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.”

And then his co-host could chime in “No, of course not, we’re in Iowa.”


Huh…had no idea Buckminster Fuller had a side gig as an Iowa action news anchor.


They also apparently switched the aspect Ratio to 16:9 as well. I.Did.Not.Know.That.


That was oddly charming.


I had a teacher, whose first job was painting sets for black and white movies and T.V. He was very good at figuring out the tonal and contrasts that colored paints made in black and white by eye during the waining days of black-and-white. As margins got thinner and budgets shrank for black-and-white productions, the need for somebody that could paint a set with the least expensive, often hardware store mistakes and left over house paints increased for a short time. He was proud of it, and I think he was very proud that it was how he got his first union card, and that made it easier to get his screen actors guild card later on.


Down Under went colour as late as 1975 - it’s very - very Australian.


You’re right - that’s why the original TARDIS set is a pale green, it looked much brighter on early 405 line b/w TV cameras.

Thought that’s nothing compared to the high contrast makeup required for neon lighting of the Baird mechanical television ‘televisors’ tried by the BBC for the World’s first scheduled ‘high definition’ television service in 1936. Faces had to be painted almost pure white; whilst lips, eyebrows, the sides of the nose and lips were painted a deep blue-black.

Thankfully, the Marconi/EMI electronic system proved far superior - not least because it didn’t involve tanks of cyanide - and Baird’s system was abandoned after just three months.

Not that it stopped him - he went on to demonstrate electronic colour television in 1939 and 600 line colour TV in 1944.


My sister cried when Benny Hill died, because she thought she wouldn’t be able to watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang again.


True story: I was 11-years-old and staying with friends just after BBC2 first started broadcasting, and it was to be broadcast in colour. Old TVs could not receive it so many people had to get new sets to receive BBC2 - but these were available as both B&W sets as well as much more expensive colour sets. The people I was staying with got a new set and spent some time trying to tune it in to see BBC2. When they got a picture, I piped up that it couldn’t be BBC2 and must be BBC1 because the picture was in B&W.
Cue some embarrassment - probably on both sides.

BTW BBC2 was first to show snooker on TV, to show off the colour. David Attenborough was BBC2 Controller at the time. But the majority of viewers probably spent the first few years watching it in B&W.

Snooker was covered a handful of times in the early days of BBC radio, and later gained a foothold in black and white TV in the 1950s and 60s. But it wasn’t until the late-1960s that snooker got its big break. Then-controller of BBC Two, Sir David Attenborough, was eager to find a format to showcase the ground-breaking invention of colour TV. After calling a meeting of BBC executives, they decided on snooker, and broadcaster “whispering” Ted Lowe came up with an idea for a new show - Pot Black.

Pot Black’s format changed over time (it ran annually from 1969 till 1986 with sporadic tournaments thereafter) but the original series consisted of eight players, playing in a one-frame knockout tournament. The debut episode was broadcast on 23 July 1969, a couple of days after Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon. One small step for man and a giant leap in the history of snooker.


The Iowa manager says the switch would enhance B&W but it was actually detrimental. To squeeze the NTSC color info into the same 6 MHz channel width, the resolution went down from 525 to 485 lines. It was obviously blurrier after the switch.



I used to imagine all the musicians lined up outside the radio station, waiting to play a song.

I couldn’t agree more. :crazy_face:


I know Calvin and Hobbes is humor, but my youngest granddaughter was completely flabbergasted when I took her by my childhood home a few years ago.

“But grandpa, why is the house red?”
“Well, it was brown when I lived here, but houses are all sorts of colors.”
“But I thought you lived back when everything was black and white. When did it change color?”

I mean, she was 5.