How the Supreme Court Made Color Television Possible

You know the story, if you have a degree in communications, but just in case… reports that the first color TV was sold on Sept. 28, 1951—after the technology had gotten approval from the highest court in the land

The first color TV models reached American stores at the end of September in 1951. But although the technology had been around for years, the road to market was anything but smooth.

Three companies were racing to be the first to wake-up TV from its black and white haze: CBS, RCA and Color Television, Inc. But when the Federal Communications Commission gave its approval to broadcast in color, only CBS was deemed qualified. The picture quality on the others was such that the FCC decided their technology wasn’t ready.

The losing companies responded by getting an injunction, arguing that the FCC’s decision had been arbitrary and reckless. The claim meant that CBS couldn’t take sponsorship money for color programming—which effectively halted color TV broadcasting.

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