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Colour TV clocks polychromatic half century

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MUMBAI: Colour TV turned 50 on Thursday.

It was on 25 March, 1954, that the Radio Corporation of America's (RCA) plant in Bloomington, Indiana, produced the first CT-100, a $1,000 set (approaching $7,000 in today's dollars) that historians call the first mass production color TV. The 160-pound unit had 1,012 parts, 36 vacuum tubes and 150 feet of wire.

Called The Merrill, the model hit US stores in April 1954. Only about 5,000 of these 12-inch sets were manufactured however. This was because colour took its time to spread its reach, high cost the culprit. Most Americans saw the Kennedy assassination in 1963 in black and white. It was only in 1967 that colour outsold black-and-white for the first time - with more than 5.5 million sets sold. By 1973, more than half of all American households had colour.

In India, colour came into television with the Asian Games in 1982. Today, about 32 million households in the country have colour TV sets, while the majority of 56 million households still has black and white sets. Last year, a total of seven million TV sets were sold, of which approximately seven per cent were 21 inches or of the "flat" category. The television market, which has been growing at a rate of 11-13 per cent annually, is expected to maintain this momentum, if not up it.

According to reports, the domestic colour TV market has grown 50 per cent in three years from five million units in 2000, with the growth rate hovering around 10-15 per cent, as against five -10 per cent in China and three to five per cent in Europe and North America .

With flat screens and new technology making their way into Indian households, the high growth rates are likely to hold in the coming years. While the market size is miniscule compared to bigger markets like China and the US, it is fast catching up, reports indicate.

50 years ago, NBC made history with the first live broadcast in colour; the event - the Tournament of Roses Parade in California.

The first cartoons that aired in colour were The Flintstones and The Jetsons in 1962.

However many industry experts consider the first definitive colour show to be the western Bonanza., which started airing on NBC from 1959.

In India, colour TV bloomed with national colours with the New Delhi Asiad and flowered with the coming of the satellite age and multi-hued programming from overseas. Lowering import duties and relaxation of rules on the import of colour picture tubes added to the colour lure.

Today, consumer electronics companies (with the TV enjoying pride of place) vie for sponsorships of important events and sports on television.

With flat screens, HDTV and even better technology, television has a colourful future ahead.

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