Early Television
Early Television
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Early Color Television

Who Sold the First NTSC Color Set to the Public?

Admiral

December 12, 1953: Ad in the New Castle, PA newspaper implies that Admiral sets are for sale. Article

Several articles found by Marshall Wozniak support the claim that Admiral sets were available in December of 1953.

The book Watching TV - Four Decades of American Television, by Harry Castleman and Walter J. Podrazik, says that Admiral started selling sets on this date (Thanks to TVHistory.TV and Steve Dichter for this information)

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Model C1617A

January 6, 1954: Ad in the Cumberland, MD newspaper stating that an Admiral set would be on display in a local TV shop

January 14, 1954: Ad in the San Francisco Examiner stating that Admiral sets were available for purchase

January 17, 1954: Article in the Indianpolis Star showing Admiral set at a dealer

 

Raytheon

December 21, 1953: Raytheon issues a press release saying that they have delivered 15 inch set to their distributors. Chicago Tribune article says that sets are being delivered to retailers.

Articles found by Marshall Wozniak about the Raytheon set.

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Philharmonic (AMC)

January 20, 1954: Article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that a Philharmonic (AMC) set was sold for $995, plus a $200 service contract, with delivery in 3 to 4 weeks.

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Philharmonic 15 inch

Westinghouse

March or April, 1954: Advertisments appear for the Westinghouse H940CK15, priced at $1,295. About 500 were sold.

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RCA

June, 1954: RCA starts selling its CT-100. About 4000 were sold.

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Here are newspaper articles about who was first, from Marshall Wozniak:

I found additional information for the “first color television” debate. The first Raytheon color sets as reported earlier that shipped to dealers were meant to display the 1954 Rose Parade. See this article. Date and origin of publication saved.

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This next article states that Save-On Appliance Co. in Pomona, CA.,  was the first franchised dealer authorized to display and take orders on Raytheon color television. (In this part of the country).  Further, Raytheon promises limited deliveries of Raytheon color televisions receivers in March and April, (1954).  Date and origin of publication saved.

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My research indicates that Admiral had color sets in dealer showrooms first, as early as January, 1954 (articles previously sent to you) but all were taking orders only and not immediately available. About 1000 or more Admiral color sets were manufactured. They were displayed in many parts of the country about the same time. There were many contest “give always” of the Admiral color set.  Dorns, a Southern California dealer were selling new old stock Admiral C1617A’s, quantities unknown, with steep discounts, ($199.00) in multiple stores as late as 1957. 

Westinghouse, first color sets were only available in NYC and New Jersey initially, then by April, 1954 were shipped in larger quantities to the Midwest, West, and Southern states. Manufacturing started in February and ended about June or July, 1954. Peak production was “about two dozen” sets a day. 

RCA’s first color sets hit dealer showrooms in April and May, 1954. See the next article about distribution in Southern California. Date and origin of publication saved.

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I found documented first sales of the Admiral in May, 1954, Westinghouse in April, 1954, and RCA in April, 1954. Still no proof of which manufacture sold first.

Consider this:

1. RCA had brand name and advertising advantages with the “big” advertising blitz.

2. Why would the public want to buy a 15 inch color set from Admiral, Westinghouse or RCA in 1954, when they knew 19 inch and 21 inch color sets were coming in 1954 from Motorola and RCA for less money?  The upcoming color sets were widely publicized in newspapers.

3. We found evidence that the Admiral set were being sold as late as 1957 and Westinghouse set as late as 1956.

4. The Admiral’s price was dropped to as low as $199. and the Westinghouse as low as $299. and people weren’t buying.  They had to give them away and they did in various contests and promotions.

5. . I found a newspaper article (Steve D. found the earlier ad) from “Dorn’s” a Southern California dealer that offered for sale an Admiral color set at all of their 6 stores in 1957.  How many did they have in stock?  I believe these Admirals sat in warehouses across the country as NOS.   I had previously sent you an article where an Admiral spokesperson told a Chicago Daily News reporter that 1000 Admiral color sets were in production as of January 4, 1954.  There is documentation showing “a second series” of Admiral color sets were distributed in April and May, 1954.  Same thing with the Westinghouse set.  The advertisements pictured the C1617A and H840CK15 so they were selling the sets we are discussing.

6. I found initially that the Westinghouse color sets were only sold in NYC and NJ  in February, 1954.  That might explain low sales numbers.  It wasn’t until April that Westinghouse began shipping their first color sets to the rest of the country, evidenced by newspaper articles I’ve found and published at my site.  At peak production Westinghouse produced “about 2 dozen sets a day” at the Horsehead plant. It took 16 hours to pass quality control for each set.  The goal was to reduce that time and hire more employees, only 250 at first.  The Westinghouse H840CK15 was in production for about 6 months.

Marshall Wozniak

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