Color television

A color television test at the Mount Kaukau transmitting station, New Zealand, in 1970. A test pattern with color bars is sometimes used when no program material is available.

Color television is a television transmission technology that includes information on the color of the picture, so the video image can be displayed in color on the television set. It is considered an improvement on the earliest television technology, monochrome or black-and-white television, in which the image is displayed in shades of gray (grayscale). Television broadcasting stations and networks in most parts of the world upgraded from black-and-white to color transmission between the 1960s and the 1980s. The invention of color television standards is an important part of the history of television, and it is described in the technology of television article.

Transmission of color images using mechanical scanners had been conceived as early as the 1880s. A practical demonstration of mechanically scanned color television was given by John Logie Baird in 1928, but the limitations of a mechanical system were apparent even then. Development of electronic scanning and display made an all-electronic system possible. Early monochrome transmission standards were developed prior to World War II, but civilian electronics developments were frozen during much of the war. In August 1944, Baird gave the world's first demonstration of a practical fully electronic color television display. In the United States, commercially competing color standards were developed, finally resulting in the NTSC standard for color that retained compatibility with the prior monochrome system. Although the NTSC color standard was proclaimed in 1953 and limited programming became available, it was not until the early 1970s that color television in North America outsold black-and-white or monochrome units. Color broadcasting in Europe was not standardized on the PAL and SECAM formats until the 1960s.

Broadcasters began to switch from analog color television technology to digital television c. 2006; the exact year varies by country. This changeover is now complete in many countries, but analog television is still the standard elsewhere.


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