of the 1950's and 60's

"Uncle Miltie's" MILTON BERLE SHOW was one of NBC's early color programs.
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Starting in 1957 until the beginning of the 1962-63 TV season, every NBC color broadcast began with the colorful animated NBC Peacock which reminded viewers that "The Following Program is Brought to You In Living Color on NBC!" Keep in mind that NBC was owned by television set manufacturer RCA. No doubt the Peacock, which looked pretty drab on old-fashioned black and white TV's, sold countless RCA color sets like the one shown here.
To watch the ORIGINAL 1950's NBC Peacock, click the left screen above.

NBC ended its live and videotaped color broadcasts with a color production logo.
NBC staffers called this logo "The Snake."

To watch the NBC Color Production logo, click the right screen above.

1960's NBC peacock
Beginning with the 1962-63 season, NBC updated the peacock with a less majestic musical score and more colorful animation. At the end of the animation the bird looked exactly the same as the original 1957-62 peacock. This version of the peacock was often called the "Laramie Peacock" because it was first seen on NBC's western series "Laramie" in the fall of 1962.

The peacock's days were numbered though - in the mid-1960's when NBC became a "full color network," the peacock animation was shortened, but "the bird" continued to maintain tradition at the beginning of long-running NBC shows such as "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" and "Hollywood Squares" until 1975.
To watch the "Laramie" NBC Peacock, click the screen in the RCA color TV above.

NBC chimes
The NBC chimes were familiar to radio listeners for decades before the advent of NBC television.
To watch the 1950's black and white NBC chimes, click the screen in the Philco Predicta TV on the left.

While the peacock was seen at the beginning of every NBC color broadcast, the COLOR chimes were seen at the end of each network program prior to the station break. NBC still uses a contemporary version of the chimes.
To watch the color NBC chimes of the 1960's, click the screen in the RCA color TV on the right

ABC-CBS color logos
Although ABC and CBS briefly experimented with color broadcasts in the 1950's and early 60's, few of their affiliates were equipped with transmitters capable of broadcasting the color signals. Color television set manufacturer RCA owned the NBC and took advantage of that synergy to sell RCA color TV's by broadcasting color programs on the NBC network using RCA-equipped studios. CBS and ABC had no interest in increasing RCA's profits by broadcasting in color in the 1950's.

To watch the 1960's ABC Color Presentation logo, click the left screen above

CBS's own non-compatible color broadcasting process had been a failure, and the sour taste kept the "Eye Network" out of color broadcasting until the mid-1960's. ABC joined the color revolution on a very limited scale in the early 60's with color broadcasts of the hit animated series "The Flintstones" and later "The Jetsons." Not many ABC affiliates had color transmission equipment however, so most viewers watched those early ABC color broadcasts in old-fashioned black and white. Imagine the disappointment I experienced as a teenager when the crew at ABC's non-color Wichita affiliate KAKE-TV didn't block out this ABC Color Presentation logo before their weekly "The Flintstones" broadcasts. KAKE and other ABC affiliates finally began color transmission when the ABC network joined CBS and NBC to become "full color " networks in the mid-60's. The CBS Color Presentation logo was seen on shows such as "The Smothers Brothers."

To watch the 1960's CBS Color Presentation logo, click the right screen above.

Visit my Color Television Home Page

Learn more about the Color Television Revolution

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

Watch the oldest surviving color videotape...the dedication of NBC's Washington, DC color studios in 1958

Watch An Evening With Fred Astaire the oldest surviving color videotape entertainment program (October 1958)

Read the fascinating story of the restoration of "An Evening with Fred Astaire"

Watch the oldest surviving videotape recording The Edsel Show - October 1957

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

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

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

visit Bobby Ellerbee's fascinating and compreshensive television history website Eyes Of A Generation

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 to see Steve's vintage color television page

comments? send me an email

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NBC color production1950's NBC peacock

1960's NBC peacock