View Full Version : Article about General Electric 15CL100


benman94
10-26-2016, 12:03 AM
I found myself hunting for newspaper articles about early color television in Detroit and Flint, Michigan today. While my search for more information on early color locally turned up dry, I did stumble across this article about the introduction of the General Electric model 15CL100 in the Syracuse Post-Standard from Wednesday, April 7, 1954. It does seem to suggest that both the General Electric and the 15 inch Westy beat RCA to the market.

Does anyone know for sure when the first RCA CT-100s were shipped from Bloomington? Moreover, what took RCA so long to get their receiver to market? My two great-uncles, Neil and Skip, were at RCA at the time and speculated that RCA had trouble manufacturing the color specific parts (convergence transformers, the 15G yokes, the 15GP22s themselves, etc) in large enough volume, thus delaying the introduction of the CT-100. If both Westinghouse and GE were getting sets out to dealers in some sort of quantity though, I'm doubting that a shortage in color specific parts was to blame. Even if such a shortage were to exist, why would RCA fill orders from Westinghouse and GE before taking care of the demand in-house?

Anyway, I thought some of you might find this interesting....

http://s18.postimg.org/mhx9905mx/General_Electric_15_CL100_Cropped.jpg

colorfixer
10-26-2016, 02:50 AM
I theorized that Sarnoff wanted to look like he wasn't trying another monopoly in the color tv game like he tried in monochrome tv and in radio before. Playing benevolent and allowing his licensees to get a jump on the market looked good to the industry and to the anti-trust people who were probably still staring down his neck.

broadcaster
10-26-2016, 08:18 AM
I was with a TV station in WVA and we bought a new GE transmitter. They included a 15 inch GE color TV. That was in 1954. The set was a good performer. The first program in color on it was Ding Dong School, with Miss Frances.

jr_tech
10-26-2016, 01:48 PM
I have heard speculation that the 15 inch sets were originally meant to be demo/monitor sets only, but Westinghouse and Ge started selling them to retail customers, so RCA released the CT 100 in response, instead of wating for the 21axp22 line to get up to speed, as originally planned. :scratch2:

jr

Steve D.
10-26-2016, 02:54 PM
RCA started production of the CT-100 on March 25, 1954. The earliest date I could find for retail sale of CT-100's in NYC was May 9th 1954. I assume shipping of these sets to distributors started sometime in mid April 1954. Westinghouse advertised their 15" color set on Feb. 28, 1954.

Here's an article from RCA Radio Age April, 1954 issue:
And a very early, Dec. 31, 1953 N.Y. Times article on Admiral color TV production.

-Steve D.

benman94
10-26-2016, 03:11 PM
I think that pretty much settles it: Westinghouse was first, GE second, RCA third. GE claims in the article to have already started shipping sets by April 7th. They must have been manufacturing them prior to March 25. No company, even giant GE, could have concieved, built, and shipped a color receiver in 13 days or less...

etype2
10-26-2016, 09:33 PM
Just one day after the FCC announcement (December 18, 1953) approving the RCA compatible color system, the Milwaukee Sentinal reported that Admiral was already producing color sets in pilot production with plans to introduce them to its distributors on December 30, 1953 at a price more then $1,000, with production quantities increasing by the end of the second quarter 1954. A production goal of 30 thousand color sets were planned by the end of the year.

I found a newspaper article dated February 24, 1954 showing a photo of the Admiral color set in an appliance store and presumably being offered for sale. The article goes on to say it was the first public showing of the Admiral color television in the Pittsburg area. The appliance store moved and was having a grand opening of its new store.

Also found an April 8, 1954 Chicago Tribune newspaper article saying that Admiral was beinging to ship its "second series of color set at $1000, a price drop of $175 from the previous price." announced in 1953.

http://www.visions4.net/journal/wp-content/uploads/image29.jpeg

http://www.visions4.net/journal/wp-content/uploads/admiral-artile-in-Pittsburg-paper_525WP.jpg

http://www.visions4.net/journal/wp-content/uploads/image33.jpeg


Based on this and other information I have, I believe the Admiral 15 inch color set was the first all electronic color TV to go on sale.

Tom9589
10-27-2016, 12:02 PM
I just looked at the 15CL100 schematic and see that the Hue control is on the back of the chassis. Was this circuitry so good that the Hue did not require routine adjustment? Or did GE underestimate the need for Hue adjustment?

benman94
10-27-2016, 12:06 PM
Edit: Steve, I did in fact miss your inclusion of the Admiral newspaper clipping. I found myself more engrossed in the Radio Age article. My apologies.

I had forgotten about the Admiral. I guess that makes the Westy, GE, and RCA, the second, third, and fourth sets respectively. The situation is further muddled by the prototypes that were sold to the general public after they were no longer useful as demo sets. I know of a Sparton prototype with the early metal cone CRT in the Detroit area that was sold at a steep discount by J.L. Hudson's in late 1954. I guess the difference here is that the Sparton sets were probably built for demonstration purposes only; what happened after their fifteen minutes of fame at Kern's or Hudson's or Smith-Bridgman's wasn't really a concern. The other sets mentioned thus far were fully intended to be sold; Mr. and Mrs. John. Q. Public just weren't interested.

Steve D.
10-27-2016, 01:15 PM
Evidently Ben & etype2 skipped over my posted Dec.31, 1953 Admiral article on my post. The ongoing discussion on who first offered consumer color sets for public sale has been going on for years. Many maintain Admiral based on the early dates mentioned in newspaper articles was 1st. Some credit Westinghouse who built 500 15" sets and only sold one set in the 1st month in NYC despite heavy NYC advertising. Most favor RCA due to the much higher production run. GE also had a pilot run of sets early on. I could find no ads for GE sets. Due to the high price, a small viewing screen and very limited color broadcasts, none of these manufactures saw any real success. They lost money on every set sold. RCA, because of it's heavy advertising & promotion fared the best but quickly discounted it's price by 50% to move the sets out of dealer stocks. They later did a buy back of their CT-100 sets as the 21" color sets became available in Dec. 1954. Many other manufacturers also had limited pilot production runs given to distributors to showcase that they were able to produce color televisions. Many of these sets were on public display at high end dealers for the Jan, 1st 1954 color telecast of the Rose Parade. This in cities that were able to transmit color programs at the time. I personally believe that Westinghouse wins the prize for 1st place in offering color TV in, at least in small quantities. Their early advertising is well documented. Ads from 2-28-54:

-Steve D.

benman94
10-27-2016, 01:31 PM
I think a good argument could be made for RCA, Westinghouse, or Admiral. Admiral because they do appear to be the first to have actually advertised a set for sale to the public, Westinghouse because they were the first to offer sets in any real quantity, and RCA because a) they built the greatest number of 15 inch color sets b) had the strongest advertising push and c) because the Model 5 is virtually identical to the CT-100 with the exception of that funky speaker grille.

etype2
10-27-2016, 02:59 PM
Ben and Steve: I agree with you. Steve, I did not skip over your earlier post.

I would like to share more information that I found about the Admiral color set.

First two images: An advertisement/handout for Admiral color, publication date unknown, courtesy the ETF.

http://www.visions4.net/journal/wp-content/uploads/image133.jpg

http://www.visions4.net/journal/wp-content/uploads/image134.jpg

(More to come as I gather up my inventory of images)

Third image: An advertisement by a service company supporting the Admiral color set, publication date unknown courtesy the internet.

http://www.visions4.net/journal/wp-content/uploads/image135.jpg

On page 106 of the book, Television: The Life Story of a Technology, it is stated: “Admiral Television Corporation put the first receivers (color) on the market for $1175.00 on December 30, 1953, so that it could take a deductible tax loss on its color factory investment.”

http://www.visions4.net/journal/wp-content/uploads/image125.jpg


An article where the President of Admiral claims their color set whent on sale December 19, 1953. (I think that is an ambitious claim)

http://www.visions4.net/journal/wp-content/uploads/image30.jpeg

In my last post, we found a newspaper article dated February 24, 1954 showing the Admiral color set in a Pittsburg appliance store for sale to the public.

Lastly, four months after the Admiral was first announced for sale, we have a newspaper article (shown in my last post) in April 8, 1954, we have Admiral announcing a price drop of $175., all of the above, strong evidence that the Admiral color set was on sale for four months and was the first all electronic color television to sell to the public.

Having said all of that, RCA deserves the most credit for pioneering color television in our country. The CRT's used in Admiral, Westinghouse and GE were RCA engineered. RCA shared their information with the other manufacturers because they knew that getting the color TV industry off the ground would be extraordinarily difficult. RCA licensed to the other manufactures.

Steve D.
10-27-2016, 04:32 PM
Ben & etype,

You both make good arguments. Etype2, not to sound stubborn on this, I have yet to find an actual advertisement in any major newspaper that announces the sale of Admiral color tv's during this time period. I am familiar with the catalog sheets you posted and the Littlefuse ad. As well as the posted dealer photo. I suspect that may be a pre-production model sent to a distributor. Many of the Admiral, like GE, newspaper articles were probably more hype then substance and little more then a small pilot run occurred. Ben, I do like the fact that RCA already had a Model 5 in limited production (200) in late 1953 ahead of the Rose Parade color telecast. And with very little modification they could have probably started up the CT-100 line more quickly then they did. We may never know the reasons whether from the marketing dept. or engineering or problems at the Bloomington plant itself. Pete Deksnis, well known expert on all things CT-100 maintains that the CT-100 was the 1st NTSC consumer color tv based on production #'s alone. We agreed to disagree on this many years ago. I'll still go with Westinghouse.

-SteveD.

Electronic M
10-27-2016, 05:18 PM
Depends on how you count first. From what I've seen here a good argument has been made that Admiral made the first NTSC compatible color sets meant for/intentionally available to consumers. Westinghouse was the first to sell AND market well, and RCA was the first to churn out thousands and get them into the market en mass.

Personally I think arguing that RCA was the first color TV because it was first to be mass produced is like arguing Ford made the first car because he was the first to mass produce them (and he marketed them well and contributed to their tech)...A rather dopey, but marginally valid point of view.

etype2
10-27-2016, 05:29 PM
Steve,

I know you are one of the great archivists in our hobby, so if you haven't found it, it probably does not exist.

Can we agree that question is: which manufacture offered the first color set for sale to the home consumer?

The ad you found says "ready to ship now .... to your home ...." That's strong evidence. The February 24, 1954 article and photo shows an actual Admiral color set in an appliance store. It could be they were only taking orders or it could be the store had a limited supply in stock. We don't know. The thing is, which manufacture offered a color set for sale first. The evidence so far as I understand it is that Admiral put their set on sale December 30, 1953. When was the first color set by any manufacture delivered to a home consumer, (not professional) we don't know.

There were 7 RCA Model 5's color sets and at least 1 Admiral displaying the Rose parade in my hometown Milwaukee. Admiral said they wanted to have at least 1 color set for the distributors in the 21 cities in the color network for the Rose parade.

As for numbers of color sets sold, I think what we know is RCA was the leader. As far as who first offered a color set for sale was not RCA.

I believe Admiral was based out of Chicago. If we scour the Chicago Tribune archives, we may find an even earlier article about the Admiral color set.

I have a question for all. As far as I know, only one Admiral color set exists, am I wrong? We know of more Westinghouse sets in collectors hands. Why so few Admiral color sets?
Why havenít more Admiral C1617A color sets been found? A theory, perhaps itís because the set was lost in obscurity to the marketing blitz, publicity and hoopla of RCA. Most likely, Admiral watched the slow sales of color sets, not only their own but from RCA and stopped production just as RCA did with their first color set. Other speculation is Admiral produced very few color sets in 1953/54. But numbers do not disqualify who was first.

It was reported that the CBS-Columbia 12CC2 produced approximately 200 units and only sold 100 of them. The Westinghouse H840CK15 reportedly only sold 30 units in the first few months of sale and an unknown amount later. Do we erase their marks in history?

etype2
10-27-2016, 05:37 PM
Tom,

I give RCA all the credit for engineering, marketing and creating the color television industry in our country. They lost millions, but stuck with it.

benman94
10-27-2016, 05:59 PM
etype2, I believe there are no fewer than three extant Admiral C1617As around. Such a survival rate is a bit higher than some of the prototypes (of which perhaps a single example might exist for a given set) and about par with the survival rate of the GE set (four, perhaps a fifth in a reproduction cabinet).

I'm not so sure I'd give RCA *all* of the credit. GE and Hazeltine both held patents integral to the development of the NTSC system. I believe Philco may have held a patent on some integral part as well. The idea of separating the image into luma and chroma for transmission in order to preserve backward compatibility was known to Georges Valensi in France and patented in 1938, and was considered (mathematically anyway) by a German biophysicist in the mid-20s.

Sure, RCA poured millions into it, and sure they were color's biggest champions in those early years, but they needed quite a deal of help getting to December 17, 1953.

Then there's CBS-Hytron's big contribution: depositing the phosphor dots of a color CRT directly on the face of the CRT. It wasn't a strictly necessary development (the 15GP22s worked) but it was a major leap toward wider acceptance of color television in the 60s.

etype2
10-27-2016, 06:10 PM
Ben,

Your points are well taken. I should amend my statement "all the credit".

I have said many times over: "RCA pioneered color television in the United States, although at times it was the corporate executives in New York who did so in a rather heavy handed manner. Farnsworth, Aiken, Philco (inventors/innovators) and others come to mind. Despite this, we have a personal fondness for RCA color televisions."

Steve D.
10-27-2016, 07:40 PM
Enjoying this discussion on who was first. Not the 1st time i've engaged in this back & forth, but always great to see new information and other's point of view.
To add to the mix I am including this ad dated Jan. 21, 1954 from the Abraham Strauss Dept. Store in NYC. The ad is for their house brand AMC color receiver.
The text notes that the set was produced by The Philharmonic Radio Co. Here an ad for their 1952 TV receiver:http://www.tvhistory.tv/1952-Philharmonic-Ad.JPG.
The ad also invites customers to come in and view The Dinah Shore Show telecast in color at 7:30pm that evening. I have also included a copy of that TV listing from TV guide. The ad also invites people to place their order. I apologize
for the quality of the ad. It was copied by me at the L.A. library from the New York Times microfiche file many many years ago.

-Steve D.

wa2ise
10-27-2016, 07:41 PM
Didn't many companies at first just use RCA chassises and picture tubes and install them into their own cabinets and call those their own? Until they could make their own sets.

benman94
10-27-2016, 07:53 PM
No, many manufacturers designed and built their own chassis. In fact, GE went so far as to develop and register two new tube types for the 15CL100: the 6BU5 pentode HV shunt regulator, and the 2V2 HV rectifier.
The Westinghouse and GE demodulate along R-Y and B-Y, the RCA used the I and Q axes. The Westy, GE, and RCA all have markedly different HV sections, etc.

Hagstar
10-27-2016, 09:28 PM
Nothing mattered if the pump didn't get primed. RCA today would be sued by stockholders angry at what they'd see as a boondoggle that lost money for more than a decade. Someone had to get the sets out there and break the chicken and egg issue of without programming in color and product out there it would never catch on. Most countries went to color later IIRC as the fifties were not a practical time for it from a components, economic, and business point of view.

So as far as the development of a viable *system* of NTSC color RCA gets the lion's share of the credit. Marconi and Edison get credit mostly for developing the first workable systems- they invented outright quite little, mostly they refined manufacture and reliability.

Electronic M
10-28-2016, 07:57 AM
I believe Philco may have held a patent on some integral part as well.
IIRC Philco's contribution was the QAM modulation scheme for chroma modulation.

reeferman
10-28-2016, 12:20 PM
Good thread. The articles were interesting reading. Thanks.
As to who threw the first punch in the 15" introduction; other than bragging rights, does it really matter? Only RCA had deep enough pockets to stay for the next several rounds.
Admiral's president seemed more interested in having his picture in the newspaper articles rather than possibly having a picture of the color TV.
And as we all know, talk is cheap.

PS
I noticed how the Radio Age article stated women installed sub circuits, aligned and soldered, and the men installed picture tubes, base assemblies, etc. into the cabinet. Today I don't think they would get by with printing that division of labor based on gender.
The article also stated that RCA revealed its color plans to seventy competing manufacturers. Do you think that was a typo??

Hagstar
10-30-2016, 01:36 PM
The article also stated that RCA revealed its color plans to seventy competing manufacturers. Do you think that was a typo??

I'm thinking it was like the rest of RCA's industrial color TV socialism- a rising tide lifts all boats, or no boats, thing. Since Dave Sarnoff was at the helm it shows he was a far-thinking visionary, swashbuckling type despite everything.

reeferman
10-30-2016, 10:43 PM
He probably had his fingers crossed when he said that.

dtvmcdonald
10-31-2016, 11:04 AM
Seventy would not have been too many.

Remember ... RCA lived off of already arranged royalty arrangements,
color would juct make them bigger.

Its exactly the same as the upcoming EXTREME increase in the
costs of air conditioners due to Obama's "climate deal".... the
royalty arrangements are in place, just that the old cheap gases
will be outlawed (in the US of course ... not in places like China or
India, until the patent runs out). This is off topic, but you get the
point. The key is "already arranged patent sharing".

benman94
10-31-2016, 11:35 AM
Seventy would not have been too many.

Especially when you consider that many of those seventy manufacturers produced maybe a single prototype set, or extremely limited pilot run of sets (ŗ la Zenith and Admiral), and then bailed on color TV before it even got off the ground.

dieseljeep
10-31-2016, 11:51 AM
Especially when you consider that many of those seventy manufacturers produced maybe a single prototype set, or extremely limited pilot run of sets (ŗ la Zenith and Admiral), and then bailed on color TV before it even got off the ground.
IIRC, RCA continued to build color sets after the others bailed, selling chassis to other set makers.
Mainly because of the NBC network, which seemed to be the only color programming on the air. :scratch2:

benman94
10-31-2016, 12:14 PM
IIRC, RCA continued to build color sets after the others bailed, selling chassis to other set makers.
Mainly because of the NBC network, which seemed to be the only color programming on the air. :scratch2:

They did sell complete chassis to other manufacturers. They also licensed the LB-962 circuit to other manufacturers. They'd attach their own tuner, maybe modify the audio circuit a bit, stick it in their own cabinet and then call it their own. Hoffman did this with their '55-'56 Colorcasters, the two Gilfillan prototypes use this circuit, the '56 Sentinel uses it, Emerson and Raytheon used it, etc.

Tom9589
10-31-2016, 12:31 PM
Ben, what circuit does LB-962 cover?

benman94
10-31-2016, 12:35 PM
It's a late 1954 simplified color receiver for use with the 21AXP22. The HV section is similar to that of the 21-CT-55, the color demod is narrow band R-Y B-Y similar to the CTC-4 in some ways. RCA never put it into production; they built the CTC-4 instead.

benman94
10-31-2016, 12:37 PM
See this post from Nick's Gilfillan thread for a PDF of RCA LB-962:
http://www.videokarma.org/showpost.php?p=3139641&postcount=9

Tom9589
10-31-2016, 12:52 PM
Thanks, Ben. That explains a lot.

I suspect that RCA had a patent on the color oscillator circuit which might have prompted GE to use a different circuit. GE's circuit also had a lower component count, often a design motivator.

benman94
10-31-2016, 01:06 PM
Even at RCA parts count and cost were the PRIMARY motivators. Part of the reason my Great-Uncles left RCA in 1956 was the oppressive corporate culture, and the insistence that the cheapest possible circuitry be utilized, actual performance be damned. They were given a lot more leeway and freedom over at Sperry-Rand, mostly because they were playing with defense department money...

Hagstar
10-31-2016, 01:35 PM
The brilliance of RCA corporate culture as well can't be overstated. The visionaries there saw what engineers couldn't- that performance was a red herring without a viable base of sets in use, and cost was the major barrier there in addition to the not ready for primetime capacitors and other components economically available. The other companies' me-too projects were essentially stunts not expected to make money done for marketing/bragging rights. The color demodulation section used in the CTC100 was likely bigger than Madman Muntz would want for an entire B&W set :)

benman94
10-31-2016, 01:46 PM
I would agree (and if Neil and Skip were alive, I'm sure they would too) up to a point: as soon as performance suffers in a way that is totally objectionable you're now stunting sales of the product you're trying to push. The CTC-5 Super chassis is a pretty infamous example of taking cost cutting way too far, and unfortunately, RCA didn't really have a large enough base of sets in use when the CTC-5 was rolled out.
This is speculation on my part, but I'm sure that more than a few people saw a CTC-5 in operation, made up their mind that color TV was a dog, and then decided to wait to purchase a set when the technology matured more. The sad part is, mature color TV *was* there. A CTC-4 produces a gorgeous color picture, as does the LB-962 circuit...

etype2
10-31-2016, 02:48 PM
Especially when you consider that many of those seventy manufacturers produced maybe a single prototype set, or extremely limited pilot run of sets (ŗ la Zenith and Admiral), and then bailed on color TV before it even got off the ground.

Admiral didn't bail. I can't speak for other manufactures. They stopped production of their 15 inch color set about June, 1954, about the same time RCA stopped production of the CT 100. Then RCA had limited quanties of the 21CT55 in time for Christmas delivery, 1954 and Admiral had their equivalent 21 color set in dealers showrooms by January 5, 1955, again with an RCA 21APX engineered CRT.

benman94
10-31-2016, 03:00 PM
I stand corrected. I had forgotten about the ugly 21 inch Admirals. Regardless, by 1958 RCA was left standing alone for the most part. Zenith wouldn't start manufacturing a color set until 1962, and GE and Motorola, while continuing to offer sets, were selling next to nothing.

Electronic M
10-31-2016, 05:13 PM
I stand corrected. I had forgotten about the ugly 21 inch Admirals. Regardless, by 1958 RCA was left standing alone for the most part. Zenith wouldn't start manufacturing a color set until 1962, and GE and Motorola, while continuing to offer sets, were selling next to nothing.

I happen to really like the looks of the 21" admirals...A green face with a mahogany cabinet or black face with blond cabinet and two simple top controls like Zenith monochrome sets of the time...It just looks really clean and nice to me.

benman94
10-31-2016, 05:32 PM
Not my cup of tea... but then I like the looks of the GE 15CL100, the Westinghouse H840CK15, and the late 40s UST projection sets, all of which have an unconventional (some might say ugly) design.

Tom9589
11-01-2016, 02:40 PM
Antique TVs are like cars and women. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

Electronic M
11-01-2016, 03:14 PM
antique tvs are like cars and women. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!
+1.

David Roper
11-02-2016, 10:09 PM
Ahem. Show me a picture of a 1955 Admiral, please.

Steve D.
11-02-2016, 10:15 PM
Ahem. Show me a picture of a 1955 Admiral, please.

David,

Same question occurred to me when I read the post. Closest I can come to the 1954 15" is the 1956 Admiral color receiver.

-Steve D.

David Roper
11-03-2016, 06:51 AM
It's come up in conversation before among the early color guys with pretty much unanimous consensus that it was never more than an artist's rendering. I know John Folsom is certain the set never existed. It depicts a fantasy upgrade of Admiral's 15" set to sort of their version of the 21-CT55.

Kamakiri
11-03-2016, 09:37 AM
Closest I came was this '56 that I picked up for Nick about a year ago....

http://www.videokarma.org/showthread.php?t=265219

etype2
11-03-2016, 11:59 AM
I stumbled on this article while researching the 15 inch Admiral color set.

http://www.visions4.net/journal/wp-content/uploads/image31.jpeg

I found a second article saying basically the same thing, but did not save it. I saved the above article because it mentioned the 15 inch color set. Had no reason not to believe it. I have no photos.

Steve D.
11-03-2016, 02:22 PM
It's come up in conversation before among the early color guys with pretty much unanimous consensus that it was never more than an artist's rendering. I know John Folsom is certain the set never existed. It depicts a fantasy upgrade of Admiral's 15" set to sort of their version of the 21-CT55.

David, I also believe that to be correct. Again, I could never find an ad or any documentation that would validate that the early 21" Admiral existed. More hype by the Admiral Corp. The actual '56-'57 Admiral color receivers were manufactured starting in late 1956 for the 1957 model year. They were produced to directly compete with the RCA Victor CTC-5 models. They used an Admiral designed chassis. Admiral, like RCA, offered a model under $500.00.

-Steve D.

reeferman
11-03-2016, 11:04 PM
[QUOTE=dtvmcdonald;3172641]Seventy would not have been too many.

I would like to see the names of 35 of the possible 70 manufacturers.

jr_tech
11-03-2016, 11:38 PM
I would like to see the names of 35 of the possible 70 manufacturers.

I was doubtful about the 70 also, but I found a list of over 100 manufacturers that were active in the 50s. From the tv history site:

http://www.tvhistory.tv/1950-59-ALL-USA.htm

jr

dieseljeep
11-04-2016, 11:02 AM
I was doubtful about the 70 also, but I found a list of over 100 manufacturers that were active in the 50s. From the tv history site:

http://www.tvhistory.tv/1950-59-ALL-USA.htm

jr

Many of the names listed are brand names, not manufacturers. The private label sets were made by several different firms. :scratch2:

jr_tech
11-05-2016, 06:46 PM
Many of the names listed are brand names, not manufacturers. The private label sets were made by several different firms. :scratch2:

Good point! Looking through the list do you think that 70 manufacturers is too high? how about 35 then?

jr

baursam
11-05-2016, 11:37 PM
This from Wikipedia

^ "Television in Review: N.B.C. Color," New York Times, Jan. 5, 1954, p. 28. Two days earlier Admiral demonstrated to their distributors the prototype of Admiral's first color television set planned for consumer sale using the NTSC standards, priced at $1,175 (equivalent to $10,371 in 2015). It is not known when the later commercial version of this receiver was first sold. Production was extremely limited, and no advertisements for it were published in New York or Washington newspapers. "First Admiral Color TV," New York Times, Dec 31, 1953, p. 22. "Admiral's First Color TV Set," Wall Street Journal, Dec. 31, 1953, p. 5.

Prototype only?

This page goes into great detail, http://www.visions4.net/journal/chromatron/

etype2
11-06-2016, 11:56 AM
I believe the 15 inch Admiral set went into production but in small numbers. Admirals set were in pilot production in December, 1953. Admiral announced the set was going to distributors on December 30, 1953 and would be sold for $1175.

The photo of the Admiral color set in the Pittsburgh store on February 24, 1954 was an appliance store, not a distributor. There is evidence that at least one service center was available to service the Admiral 15 inch color set. There is evidence showing that Admiral was selling the set for 4 months or more. They announced "a second series of color sets" were being shipped in May, 1954 with a price reduction of $175., from the previous price announced in December, 1953.

It has been said in this thread that because there were no advertisements of the set found, we should conclude the set never sold. First, there was a spec sheet/dealer handout for the set. Second, there are other examples of televisions with no advertisements, yet they existed and could be purchased. I could give you three examples that come to mind.

benman94
11-06-2016, 12:55 PM
If your only criteria is that a) the set existed, b) the set could have been sold, and c) the company advertised the set or claimed to sell the set, then the Admiral would not have been the first set offered. Zenith claimed to have sold one of their 15 inch sets in December of 1953 to WGN-TV in Chicago. They also claimed to have started production of their 15 inch receiver on November 19, 1953.
In any case, the claims of both Zenith and Admiral are starting to look (to me anyway) more and more like hyperbolic marketing drivel.

I agree with Steve: the Westinghouse should be considered the first production NTSC color television set.

etype2
11-15-2016, 02:41 PM
To further extend this debate and hopefully not controversy, in this February 26, 2013 thread: http://www.videokarma.org/showthread.php?t=257478

John Folsom asked this question:

"I am not sure when Admiral actually had set in dealer showrooms for sale, so I am not sure if they can really claim to be "first". Anyone know?"

To answer John's question, there was an Admiral 15 color set in a dealer showroom in Pittsburg, Beacon TV, on or prior to February 24, 1954. It is not known if they were taking orders only or if they had the set in stock. If the public could place a purchase order in that store at that time, it would constitute a "sale".

In the same forum Steve D. commented "Taking Pete Deksnis' argument that RCA produced several thousand CT-100's starting in March, 1954 and were available to distributors & dealers by late April,'54 does not trump the fact that the public could could go into a Westinghouse dealer and purchase a color tv in Feb. 1954."

Using this criteria, we have a photo shown earlier in this tread of the Admiral color set in a dealers store and presumably for sale prior to or on February 24, 1954.

benman94
11-15-2016, 03:00 PM
All of that is fine and well, but Zenith sold a 15 inch set in 1953. The argument that Admiral "could have" sold a set becomes moot, as Zenith had already actually sold one of theirs to WGN.

etype2
11-15-2016, 03:16 PM
Ben,

I believe the Zenith set was previously discounted as being first if you read Tom's website, History of Television the First 75 Years and the above quoted thread. The owner of that Zenith himself said it was a prototype.

Edit: This is the thread with the Zenith discussion.

http://www.videokarma.org/showthread.php?t=22010

2nd edit: Further documentation here: http://www.visions4.net/journal/chromatron/

benman94
11-15-2016, 07:42 PM
For all intents and purposes, BOTH the Admiral and the Zenith are prototypes. The Westy was the first set produced in quantity. The Admiral and Zenith were built in vanishingly small numbers. They survive in similar numbers. One of them, the Zenith, was *actually sold* to third party, WGN, before any other manufacturer sold a set. With all due respect, your argument for the Admiral is specious at best. CBS sold a field sequential set first, Zenith sold what was probably the first all-electronic set. I don't see how you can still argue for the Admiral.

etype2
11-15-2016, 10:31 PM
For all intents and purposes, BOTH the Admiral and the Zenith are prototypes. The Westy was the first set produced in quantity. The Admiral and Zenith were built in vanishingly small numbers. They survive in similar numbers. One of them, the Zenith, was *actually sold* to third party, WGN, before any other manufacturer sold a set. With all due respect, your argument for the Admiral is specious at best. CBS sold a field sequential set first, Zenith sold what was probably the first all-electronic set. I don't see how you can still argue for the Admiral.

More evidence:

Article published January 4, 1954 in the Pittsburgh Press.

http://www.visions4.net/journal/wp-content/uploads/IMG_1264.jpg

Article published February 21, 1954 from the Pittsburg Press: “100% trade-in allowance toward color television on any new set purchased from us now.”

http://www.visions4.net/journal/wp-content/uploads/IMG_1263.jpg

Article published April,9 1954
http://www.visions4.net/journal/wp-content/uploads/image33.jpeg

This, plus everything I previously posted is why I believe the Admiral 15 inch color set was the first all electronic color set to be marketed and publicly for sale.

Of course the CBS was the first color set. The Zenith that sold was a commercial sale, not a consumer sale and was and is considered a prototype.

benman94
11-16-2016, 09:44 AM
The Zenith was a prototype, but so was the Admiral. Both were developed to the point where they probably could have been sold (the Zenith actually was!) and based on survival rates, it isn't a leap to conclude they were built in similar numbers. Seven Zeniths are known to exist to three or four Admirals. Hell the Zeniths may have been built in numbers exceeding the so-called production model Admiral. We aren't even sure if Admiral sold one of their sets, whereas we know Zenith did. Anyway, this whole argument hinges on your definition of a prototype (one I strongly disagree with), and your belief that the WGN sale somehow doesn't count because it wasn't to a member of the public. I think we'll have to simply agree to disagree on the topic...

Electronic M
11-16-2016, 10:38 AM
If you argue a prototype as being a set designed before the [NTSC] standard, then the CT-100 could be considered a prototype too. Sure it had some minor circuit and cabinet changes, but it is pretty much a model 5 prototype pushed into mass-production. ...Even mass-production is not a good delineation between a prototype and production model since many later consumer model sets (even 21"ers) were made in such limited quantities that production methods often were the same as small run demonstration prototypes like the model 5.

IMO the true delineation between prototype and consumer set is in whether the company intentionally sold them to civilians [members of the general public not working for the TV industry] through their dealers. Every model has a prototype...what makes a set consumer is when someone brings the prototype to production as-is and says 'make X more just like this and add them to our current consumer offerings'.

benman94
11-16-2016, 11:11 AM
I never thought of it that way Tom, but you're right, even mass production makes a poor line in the sand. There are currently 7 known '55-'56 Hoffman Colorcasters; they're even rarer than the 15 inch Westy, the RCA CT-100, 21-CT-55s, and the CTC-4s.

I still maintain that the supposed advertisements for the Admiral are little more than hyperbolic drivel used by Admiral to enhance their image in the mind of the public, especially in light of the advertisement for the 1955 Admiral 21 incher that didn't exist. I suppose the issue could only be settled by doing the impossible: going back in time to December of 1953, and attempting to order a C1617A from them. Regardless, it doesn't really matter; when most collectors think of the first color TV, they're likely to conjure mental images of a CT-100 or 15 inch Westy, be that correct, incorrect, or otherwise....

Tom9589
11-16-2016, 11:50 AM
This is beginning top sound like the Ford vs. Chevy debate which we all know will never be settled. (I own one of each)

benman94
11-16-2016, 12:01 PM
This is beginning top sound like the Ford vs. Chevy debate which we all know will never be settled. (I own one of each)

Ford vs. Chevy is like arguing whether you'd rather have ebola or rabies... Dodge/Chrysler products are where it's at! :thmbsp:

Electronic M
11-16-2016, 02:57 PM
Ford vs. Chevy is like arguing whether you'd rather have ebola or rabies... Dodge/Chrysler products are where it's at! :thmbsp:

I've got strains of both (Lincoln and GMC), and my folks got the Asiatic flu (Honda)...I've heard enough tails of low mileage Mopar working like crap that newer mopar (aside from their retro muscle cars) seem like the plague to me. :D

Tom9589
11-16-2016, 05:04 PM
The Ford and Chevy I own are SUVs. For sedans, I've only owned Mercedes-Benz since 1975. Nothing else comes even close.

Steve D.
11-16-2016, 05:52 PM
Think we've wandered off topic a bit. Just saying.

-Steve D.

etype2
11-16-2016, 06:53 PM
Bringing it back on topic. Steve, your point about advertising is well taken ..... but, for instance the RCA 21CT55. It seems they did about zero advertiseing on that set which was only available a short time (6 months?). Other then the "Big Color" ad found by Wayne, I have not been able to find a single ad, only things in RCA technical publications.

There was one ad showing all the parts of the set laid out in front of it, but that was in an RCA publication. After extensive searching, I did find one obscure ad by a tire company of all things in South Boston, Va. published January 20, 1955 and that's it.

On the Sony KV 7010U Chromatron, I have searched everywhere I can think of and can't come up with one single ad or dealer handout. Only the service manual. Even queried the Sony Archive Museum in Tokyo and they know nothing of it.

Back in the 80's before computers, the only way an enthusiast could find information was from magazines or newspapers. I learned about the Sharp Crystaltron 3 inch color LCD from magazines. It was a breakthrough product at the time and I wanted one. Could not find a single ad anywhere so I looked up the nearest Sharp distributer near me. They were in Sacramento, CA. Called and they indeed had the Crystaltron. I made arrangements to meet him, he had it in three colors and I ended up buying from a distributor! Today on the internet, I can find manufacture ads on the Crystaltron, but at the time no ads could be found.

In the case of the Admiral 15 inch color set, it was a real niche market in 1954. You either had to be well heeled or a techie/early adopter. RCA had name recognition and the money to advertise, plus the fact they were the top daug, big promoters of color television with an enormous vested interest to succeed. I think Admiral was watching what RCA did carefully and whenever RCA launched a new product, they responded in kind, but on a much smaller scale. Color TV in 1954 was very slow for the reasons Steve said earlier. Both manufacturers terminated production of their first sets about the same time. I have found newspaper articles verifying this. If you read the biography of the President of Admiral, you will get insights into the man. He wanted to be first with innovation.

I suspect that other dealers like Beacon TV had the Admiral sets in their stores, but sold very few if any. RCA had the name, if folks were going to spend that big money for a color set, it was going to be an RCA. That is my personal view and two cents.

benman94
11-17-2016, 02:12 PM
etype2,

Your points are well taken, but also consider that some of the sets in those stores may have actually been strictly for demo purposes. J.L. Hudson's, Detroit's flagship department store (and at one time the second largest in the world behind Macy's) had numerous 15G based sets on display in 1954. A period ad on microfiche at the Detroit Public Library lists Majestic and Raytheon-Belmont as among the manufacturers with a set at Hudson's. To my knowledge no examples of either survive, so it isn't unreasonable to conclude they were probably prototypes not destined for the public.

Is it possible that Beacon TV was lent the Admiral, with the understanding that it NOT be sold?

etype2
11-17-2016, 02:40 PM
etype2,

Your points are well taken, but also consider that some of the sets in those stores may have actually been strictly for demo purposes. J.L. Hudson's, Detroit's flagship department store (and at one time the second largest in the world behind Macy's) had numerous 15G based sets on display in 1954. A period ad on microfiche at the Detroit Public Library lists Majestic and Raytheon-Belmont as among the manufacturers with a set at Hudson's. To my knowledge no examples of either survive, so it isn't unreasonable to conclude they were probably prototypes not destined for the public.

Is it possible that Beacon TV was lent the Admiral, with the understanding that it NOT be sold?

Ben,

Very good information about J.L. Hudson. I grew up in Milwaukee and remember that store.

Consider what the Beacon TV's advertisement said "100% trade-in allowance toward color television on any new set purchased from us now".

I believe this is very good evidence that the set was indeed for sale. Do I think the Admiral set displayed at that time was a "loaner"? Very possible. I do believe Beacon TV was taking purchase orders and if executed, to my mind that constitutes a "sale".

Electronic M
11-17-2016, 02:50 PM
I wonder if any persons from that store or kids of people that were interested in buying color are still living and remember someone inquiring of purchasing one those sets and if the sale was permitted?

etype2
11-17-2016, 02:59 PM
I wonder if any persons from that store or kids of people that were interested in buying color are still living and remember someone inquiring of purchasing one those sets and if the sale was permitted?

I'm still trying to find other newspaper clippings about the Admiral set. I found a newspaper clipping in April, 1954 stating that "Admiral has begun to ship its second series of color sets with a price reduction of $175." No doubt to match the price of the RCA CT-100 that went on sale in April, 1954.

Electronic M
11-17-2016, 04:07 PM
I'm still trying to find other newspaper clippings about the Admiral set. I found a newspaper clipping in April, 1954 stating that "Admiral has begun to ship its second series of color sets with a price reduction of $175." No doubt to match the price of the RCA CT-100 that went on sale in April, 1954.

That certainly strongly implies that the earlier sets and the second series were indeed for sale to the public....Otherwise why even price them?

Steve D.
11-17-2016, 05:04 PM
etype2,

Your points are well taken, but also consider that some of the sets in those stores may have actually been strictly for demo purposes. J.L. Hudson's, Detroit's flagship department store (and at one time the second largest in the world behind Macy's) had numerous 15G based sets on display in 1954. A period ad on microfiche at the Detroit Public Library lists Majestic and Raytheon-Belmont as among the manufacturers with a set at Hudson's. To my knowledge no examples of either survive, so it isn't unreasonable to conclude they were probably prototypes not destined for the public.

Is it possible that Beacon TV was lent the Admiral, with the understanding that it NOT be sold?

Taking a cue from Ben's last post, here is a Feb. 9, 1954 NY Times ad from
The John Wanamaker Dept. Store. It invites folks to attend a viewing of their color receivers from various manufacturers. The list includes Zenith which is known to have only provided prototype color sets at this time. Admiral is not on the list.


I'm sure these were all demo/prototype sets to peak the public's interest.

-Steve D.

Steve D.
11-17-2016, 05:34 PM
Also posting these 2 ads inviting customers to view Pacific Mercury color receivers
at Los Angeles area stores. #1 is from the Dec-31-53 L.A. Times for the Dorn's Dept. Store showing a broadcast of the 1st color telecast of the Rose Parade from NBC, Jan 1, 1954.

Ad #2 is from a March, 1954 So. Ca. newspaper also inviting folks to view a Pacific Mercury prototype color TV at an L.A. area appliance store. The ad also states that production of color tv's will begin as soon as TV stations begin regular color broadcasts.

The chassis for this prototype set still survives as seen in the attached photos.

-Steve D.

etype2
11-17-2016, 05:40 PM
Taking a cue from Ben's last post, here is a Feb. 9, 1954 NY Times ad from
The John Wanamaker Dept. Store. It invites folks to attend a viewing of their color receivers from various manufacturers. The list includes Zenith which is known to have only provided prototype color sets at this time. Admiral is not on the list.


I'm sure these were all demo/prototype sets to peak the public's interest.

-Steve D.

Interesting article. There is even an implication that the sets were for sale. The verbiage "whether you choose black and white or color"

Possibly Wanamaker was not franchised to sell Admiral?

Edit: I didn't see your second posting while typing this. Very interesting information. There was an Admiral set available for the Rose parade in Milwaukee.

The thing about the Admiral set is that we have it priced with an announcement on December 30, 1953. We have evidence that the Admiral was added to the 1954 line of televisions in Chicago, Admiral's home base on January 4, 1954. We have a statement in a published book that Admiral sold the set in 1953 so they could take a tax deduction on their color manufacturing facilities. We have evidence that Beacons TV which was an Admiral dealer was indeed offering the Admiral set for sale as early as February 21, 1954. We have evidence that Admiral reduced the price of the Admiral set in April 9, 1954, most likely to match the price of RCA's first color set and also saying this was "the second series of color sets being shipped". We have evidence that a company was offering parts for the new Admiral set and we have evidence of a dealer handout advertisement for the Admiral set.

If you read the handout, at the bottom, it talks about the set "for your home". It was written for the consumer. I have seem similar handouts where they were geared to the distributors such as "your customers will appreciate this feature (so and so) ....

The author of the book needed to check his sources. If Admiral were audited, they would have to prove a sale(s) in 1953 or that they indeed offered the set for sale in 1953.

Lastly Steve, your own words: "Taking Pete Deksnis' argument that RCA produced several thousand CT-100's starting in March, 1954 and were available to distributors & dealers by late April,'54 does not trump the fact that the public could could go into a Westinghouse dealer and purchase a color tv in Feb. 1954."

I understand the advertising you found solidified your belief. I have debated why there was not much advertising done for the Admiral above in this thread.

If you choose not to believe that Beacons TV was offering the set for sale despite what they said in their ad and call it "hype" I can't defend that. We are friends this is a great debate.


I guess this debate will go on. :-) I still believe the Admiral was the first all electronic color set to be offered for sale.

etype2
11-18-2016, 12:04 PM
For your consideration. Article from Benton Harbor, Michigan, January 25, 1954, more evidence :

Available for immediate delivery when shipment arrives.

http://www.visions4.net/journal/wp-content/uploads/IMG_1289.jpg

If they weren't selling, they were giving then away: Arthur Godfrey Liquid Lux contest. 10 Admiral 15 inch color consoles. (A similar contest was held for the RCA 21CT55 sponsored by Kraft Parkay margarine.)

http://www.visions4.net/journal/wp-content/uploads/IMG_1301.jpg

A Google search found a snippet that Admirals production number was 1000 color sets in January, 1954. Also found two classified ads from 1955 of people selling the Admiral 15 inch color set.

Electronic M
11-18-2016, 12:37 PM
For your consideration. Article from Benton Harbor, Michigan, January 25, 1954, more evidence :

Available for immediate delivery when shipment arrives.

http://www.visions4.net/journal/wp-content/uploads/IMG_1289.jpg

If they weren't selling, they were giving then away: Arthur Godfrey Liquid Lux contest. 10 Admiral 15 inch color consoles. (A similar contest was held for the RCA 21CT55 sponsored by Kraft Parkay margarine.)

http://www.visions4.net/journal/wp-content/uploads/IMG_1301.jpg

A Google search found a snippet that Admirals production number was 1000 color sets in January, 1954. Also found two classified ads from 1955 of people selling the Admiral 15 inch color set.

I think this proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Admiral was the first consumer color set available. Clearly they did intentionally sell them to consumers, and corporate interests that gave those sets to consumers....Neat!:smoke:

That is some good research work.:thmbsp:

benman94
11-18-2016, 02:07 PM
That settles it for me; I'm sold, Admiral was first, Westinghouse second, GE third, RCA fourth.

Steve D.
11-18-2016, 03:04 PM
Seems the Benton Harbor TV dealer also had an Admiral demo set. He did offer to order the sets for customers and listed a sale price. So perhaps like Beacon's dept. store he was retailing color TV very early on. I would have to agree that Admiral was the first to offer color tv for public sale. As for the Lux prize giveaway, this was in May 1955. Long after 15" color receivers were obsolete. Seems Admiral had at least 10 of these sets still on hand. Thank you etype 2 for your research. I would like to see the Google snippet on the 1000 set production for the Admiral color sets just for my own records. Also, seems that Lux wasn't the only soap co. that offered 15" color sets as prizes. This from 1954: http://www.earlytelevision.org/fab_contest.html

-Steve D

etype2
11-18-2016, 03:42 PM
Seems the Benton Harbor TV dealer also had an Admiral demo set. He did offer to order the sets for customers and listed a sale price. So perhaps like Beacon's dept. store he was retailing color TV very early on. I would have to agree that Admiral was the first to offer color tv for public sale. As for the Lux prize giveaway, this was in May 1955. Long after 15" color receivers were obsolete. Seems Admiral had at least 10 of these sets still on hand. Thank you etype 2 for your research. I would like to see the Google snippet on the 1000 set production for the Admiral color sets just for my own records. Also, seems that Lux wasn't the only soap co. that offered 15" color sets as prizes. This from 1954: http://www.earlytelevision.org/fab_contest.html

-Steve D

Very cool. Okay Steve, will send it to you.

Here is the RCA 21CT55 contest promotion in 1955.

http://www.visions4.net/journal/wp-content/uploads/IMG_1304-1.jpg

Steve D.
11-18-2016, 04:01 PM
etype2,


Thanks for the Parkay contest photo ad. Very rare promotion for the 21CT55 even if by proxy.

-Steve D.